Community leaders from Appalachia to Wyoming to the Navajo Nation, where people once relied on the coal industry, are developing and implementing promising solutions to create inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth, driven from the ground up. These leaders need supportive public policy and investment at the local, state and federal level to accelerate this work of building a new economy.
On January 21, alongside 12 national partners, Mountain Association was part of a network that asked the Biden-Harris Administration to support those local efforts by creating a new federal office to coordinate new economy work across the federal government. We also wrote the National Economic Transition platform to outline and define key elements to ensuring economic transition in our communities that are just and equitable.
This coalition was excited to see that the Biden administration established a Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization on January 27. The Interagency Working Group is tasked to report in 60 days on ways to revitalize the economies of communities impacted by fossil fuel extraction and production.
“It’s not time for small measures. We have to be bold. So let me be clear: that includes helping revitalize the economies of coal, oil, gas and power plant communities. We have to start by creating new, good-paying jobs, capping abandoned wells, reclaiming mines, turning old brownfield sites into new hubs of economic growth,” Biden said on January 27, vowing to invest in coal communities before signing executive orders aimed at combating the climate crisis. “We are going to work with mayors, governors, and tribal leaders, and business leaders who are stepping up, and the young people who are organizing and leading the way.”
“The National Economic Transition platform provides a road map for building the new economy, and the organizations that developed the platform stand ready to assist the Inter Agency Working Group in this critical task,” Peter Hille, Mountain Association’s President said. “President Biden’s Executive Order today recognizes what people in the coalfields have known for years—that they sacrificed to grow our nation’s economy, and that they now bear the brunt of changes in the global energy economy. This gives us new hope that we can accelerate the just transition to a new economy with the full support of the federal government.”
We are looking forward to continuing engaging with the Biden administration to accelerate the work of building a new economy in Eastern Kentucky.