In early January, thirteen of the groups that collaborated on the creation of the National Economic Transition platform - as convened by the Just Transition Fund - sent recommendations to the Biden Administration. We outlined early steps the new Administration should take to begin implementing the platform’s proposals, including the creation of a White House Office of Economic Transition, a coal community task force, and increased funding to transition programs. The NET platform is built out of community-driven solutions to spur sustainable and equitable economic growth that are ready to be scaled up with federal investment and support. To start doing that, the Administration must start somewhere. Our recommendations provide that starting point.
We’re glad to announce that, on January 27th, the Biden Administration showed they are listening. The President signed a new executive order that includes the creation of an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.
This is an important step forward. Communities have been working for years to spur equitable, sustainable economic development for the people and places hit hardest by coal’s decline. By bringing a greater level of federal attention and coordination to the economic transition already underway, the new interagency working group can help accelerate that work. The administration must now:
- Connect the interagency working group to the breadth of groups and resources that support the NET platform and economic development work in coal communities all over the country.
- Focus on economic development, workforce development, infrastructure, and community transition planning solutions— like training for clean energy careers, investment in broadband, and support for local entrepreneurs — as a central part of their work.
- Immediately increase funding for programs that support these solutions.
- Create a White House Office of Economic Transition that engages affected communities and workers as active partners.
The following NET partners also released statements in response to this progress:
Peter Hille, President, Mountain Association
“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. Today, President Biden gives us new hope that we can accelerate the just transition to a new economy with the full support of the federal government. The Interagency Working Group he has designated is tasked to report in 60 days on ways to revitalize the economies of coal impacted communities. 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.”
Heidi Binko, Executive Director, Just Transition Fund:
"Today, President Biden demonstrated that he’s ready to listen to local leaders from coal communities. By acting on the recommendations of National Economic Transition partners to create an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, the President will take an important step forward to promote the economic revitalization of transitioning communities while combating the climate crisis. Local coal community leaders advocated for the creation of an entity like this working group to create a foothold in the federal government to coordinate, fund, and scale up the community-driven solutions that are already working.
There is much more to be done to get this right. We urge the Administration to ensure affected communities and workers are represented and engaged in this task force and throughout the effort. A focus on economic development, workforce development, infrastructure, and community transition planning solutions— like training for clean energy careers, investment in broadband, and support for local entrepreneurs — must be a central part of the work of this task force. Finally, the Administration should immediately increase funding for programs that support these solutions and create a White House Office of Economic Transition that engages affected communities and workers as active partners.
Our nation has an obligation to ensure the people who powered our country for generations are not left behind as we undergo this historic energy transition. We appreciate the President's early action to recognize this contribution and support the important economic transition process for communities from the Navajo Nation to the Powder River Basin to Appalachia and beyond."
Adam Wells, Regional Director of Community and Economic Development, Appalachian Voices:
“Communities in Southwest Virginia and across Central Appalachia have been working for years already to put new economic and community development projects on the ground, particularly on or near old coal sites—powering new data centers with solar installations, and revitalizing once-bustling downtowns in the heart of coal mining areas. By establishing this interagency working group, the Biden Administration has taken a key step towards accelerating those efforts, and not a day too soon as our communities grapple with both a declining coal industry and the Covid economic fallout.
“Now, it is essential that the White House create an Office of Coal Community Economic Transition—a concept that was envisioned by leaders from frontline communities across the nation—to create an action plan based on the input of affected communities, workers, and other stakeholders, and for Congress to fund these solutions at the scale that meets the immense gravity of the moment."