The American Rescue Plan and the Department of Commerce have announced $300 million in economic adjustment grants to help coal communities recover and thrive. These grants are intended to create jobs and expand new industries in coal regions. The grant money will help communities develop plans for the future and provide support for the recovery of these areas. These funds will also go towards restoring communities and ensuring that their infrastructure remains in good condition. These new programs will benefit these areas in various ways, so the funds will be used for the best purpose possible.
The White House Interagency Working Group has outlined ways to improve economic conditions in coal and power plant communities. The group includes many members of the president’s cabinet. Its primary objective is to identify and deliver federal financial resources to help revitalize these regions. This report highlights the economic and social costs and benefits of closing coal plants in the region. By focusing on specific community needs, the IWG is likely to be able to develop a plan to help these communities.
As coal communities undergo this transition, financial support must be centered on regenerating entire communities. The IWG’s goal should be to ensure that the affected regions receive significant resources for long-term development. This includes investing in education and training for displaced workers. While there are some promising programs, it must also focus on long-term financial investment in coalfield communities. The transition from coal to renewable energy is not yet complete and communities will face multiple challenges. This includes the loss of tax revenue and legacy liabilities.
The current programs are not sufficient to help coal-dependent communities. Most have specialized resources and expertise and can only benefit a limited number of communities. In addition, the existing programs tend to benefit a relatively small subset of communities. This is problematic for communities where technical consultants, staff and infrastructure are lacking. In addition, there are no federal funding opportunities for the most underserved communities. The PNNL is a great place to start, but there are a few barriers to overcome.
First, the IWG has identified 25 “priority energy communities” in the U.S. to focus on coal-related decline. In addition to the federal grant money, this funding will be used for local economic development and site remediation. The funding will be spent on building infrastructure, and economic revitalization in these communities. It will also be helpful to listen to the perspectives of these communities through public town hall meetings. If the government wants to help these communities, it should listen to them.
Moreover, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has announced a $300 million commitment to coal communities. This is a significant contribution to President Biden’s campaign promise to support energy communities and to revitalize coal towns. This funding will also help fund programs that will improve the quality of life in the communities. If the coal industry is no longer profitable, the U.S. government should invest in economic development alternatives.