WHERE WE WORK

The Fund focuses on coalfield and power plant communities. Our geographic priorities include key states in Appalachia, the West, and the Midwest.

The Fund has prioritized communities based on a set of economic, social, and political factors. These factors include the amount of economic distress (impact on tax base, direct and indirect job loss) due to mine and plant closures, the extent to which low-income communities are affected by energy transition, non-profit capacity (of both community and philanthropic partners), and a political score based on the existence of climate-friendly policies at the state level. JTF supplemented these factors with on-the-ground situational assessments to more deeply explore capacity and opportunities, and to identify challenges.

The Just Transition fund is working in key coal-impacted communities in dark green states and is exploring supporting communities in light green states.

Based on this priority analysis, we’ve identified the following priority communities (bolded in blue) as priorities for investment in 2019.

Appalachia 

Appalachia, the region hardest hit by the shrinking coal industry, has experienced 87 percent of the
country’s coal related job loss. According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the region lost more than 23,000 jobs between 2011 and 2015 alone, as production plummeted by more than 40 percent to reach its lowest historical levels.

Although mechanization had caused job loss for decades, the steep decline of coal production and closing of power plants has been a wake-up call for a region long dependent on a single industry.

A just transition will require long-term investments in creative, community-based solutions to build a
diversified economy that creates jobs, retrains workers and builds local wealth.

2019 Priority Communities in Appalachia:

Eastern Kentucky

Southwestern Virginia

Southern West Virginia

Western Pennsylvania

The West

In the Powder River Basin, a string of coal mining company bankruptcies and changing energy demands have left Wyoming and Montana communities in distress. The region, which provides 40 percent of our nation’s coal, is beginning to reel as both coal plants and mines close. Job losses are particularly devastating for communities in Wyoming. In the coming years, industry predicts the state could lose upwards of 10,000 coal-related jobs.

More broadly throughout the West, tribal communities and those dependent on federal coal are struggling. The Navajo Nation, which pays for some of the most expensive coal in the country, is particularly impacted as more than 800 plant and mine jobs are at stake in a community where 75 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Efforts to rebuild coalfield communities in each of these places are threatened by the immense legacy liabilities that coal leaves behind.

2019 Priority Communities in the West:

Arizona, Four Corners Region

Colorado, Western Slope

Colstrip, Montana

Key States Where Power Plants are Closing

Across the entire country, the energy transition impacts communities where coal-fired power plants have closed. The nation’s fleet, which consumes 90 percent of all coal mined in the country, is a critical component of the clean energy transition. According to the Energy Information Administration, more than 130 coal plants have closed since 2015, with many more closures expected throughout the next few years. Already, nearly 40 percent of the fleet has been announced for retirement. Plant closures not only result in direct job loss, but also cause significant reductions in public revenue when
plants are removed from local tax rolls.

2019 Priority Communities:

Central Minnesota

Ohio River Valley, Ohio

Southern Illinois

Coal-Fired Power Plant Retirements Near At-Risk Populations