news by topic
“Can Biden Keep Coal Country From Becoming a ‘Ghost Town’?"
For nearly 60 years, presidents have promised to lift up Appalachia, but many communities remain on the brink.
Virginia Coal Equipment Manufacturer Finds New Market in Clean Energy
With the support of community leaders, the family business is weathering coal’s decline by pivoting to solar storage—and creating jobs in the process.
Opinion: Put Unemployed Miners and Drillers Back to Work in Restoration
“Economic development focusing on restoring the land once miners leave is a natural fit for beleaguered towns suffering the latest bust. Plus, by patching up the torn landscape these communities will help clear the path for other types of economic development, such as tourism or recreation.”
Colorado Town Partners With Community College to Address Coal Transition
To prepare for its coal plant’s closure, the town of Craig is working with a local community college to train workers—including displaced plant workers—in a range of new sectors.
President Biden Creates Working Group to Support Coal Community Transition
The new working group includes representatives from key federal agencies and will make recommendations to promote economic revitalization in America’s coal communities.
National Economic Transition Coalition Asks Biden to Address Coal Community Needs
Last month, 13 organizations—including the Just Transition Fund and community organizations across the country—outlined the need for a federal coordinating entity and greater funding for transition programs.
How West Virginia Could Become A Model for Renewal Across the Country
With political attention focused on West Virginia, community leaders and national development experts think the state provides a model for how the federal government can promote rural prosperity through investment in broadband, local amenities, and other strategies.
Ohio’s Power Plant Communities Reckon With Coal’s Decline
The state’s plant workers, residents, and local leaders seek new sources of livelihood while reflecting on coal’s complex legacy for their communities.
Opinion: This Town Powered America for Decades. What Do We Owe Them?
“What will happen to Gillette -- and other fossil fuel towns -- as the coal industry recedes and clean-energy goals are realized? And what difference could the Biden administration or Congress make for a dying town built on coal?”
Colorado’s Office of Just Transition Explores Funding Options
In its final action plan, the Office sees the need for both public and private funding to support communities’ transition across the state.
A Local Leader’s Fight to Ensure A Just Transition for the Navajo Nation
Nicole Horseherder, Executive Director of Tó Nizhóní Ání, shares her story of helping Navajo communities build a more equitable economy in the wake of recent coal closures.
Retired German Coal Plant To Become New Hydrogen Hub
After closing the plant in 2020, Vattenfall AB will repurpose the plant for large-scale hydrogen production using wind energy.
NET Partners Urge Biden Administration to Set Up White House Office of Economic Transition Now
With President Joe Biden officially taking power yesterday, a number of National Economic Transition coalition partners are urging the Biden-Harris Administration to take quick action to address the crises facing coal communities from Navajo Nation to Appalachia and beyond.
Report: Dominion Energy Must Start Planning Now for Coal Plant Transition
A new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis highlights the local economic risks of abrupt closure of the utility’s power plant in Wise County, Virginia.
Colorado’s Just Transition Advisory Commission Releases Final Action Plan
Based largely on a draft plan released in August 2020, the final plan outlines strategies to support the state’s coal-impacted communities and workers.
2020 Brought More Job Loss and Bankruptcies for Coal Communities
8,000 coal workers lost their jobs in the last year, and five coal companies have gone bankrupt in the past five months.
Wind Energy Brings Tax Revenue Growth for Wyoming Localities
Despite the pandemic, the Roundhouse Wind Energy Project has increased annual tax revenues by 20% in Laramie County and the city of Cheyenne.
Native Renewables’ Wahleah Johns Appears On A Matter of Degrees Podcast
Joined by leading scholars and advocates, Johns discusses the Navajo Nation’s historical relationship to coal and their current efforts to achieve a just transition.
Mayors Release “Marshall Plan for Middle America”
The $60 billion plan—developed by mayors from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia—calls for increased federal investment in clean energy-based economic and workforce development to help heartland communities dependent on fossil fuel industries.
Opinion: Envisioning A New Day in Southwest Virginia
“We’ve taken great pride in powering America for generations, and we believe that federal commitments and investment will bring our new vision to fruition. This new way of thinking and working will once again bring employment opportunities back to the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.”
Finding Lessons for Climate Activists in Utah Coal Communities
“Indeed, what scares many of these communities is the demonization from and lack of dialogue with mainstream environmentalists. They deeply fear being left behind by the energy transition, and that has become one of the motivating factors for places like Emery County to innovate with carbon capture and energy storage.”
What the Biden Presidency Could Mean for West Virginia’s Just Transition
Some West Virginians worry about Biden’s impact on fossil fuel industries, while others see a new opportunity to expand federal support for transitioning communities.
Opinion: Securitization A Useful Financing Tool for Transition From Coal
Securitization and other financing tools can help ease the energy transition for states and utilities, but they must be designed to address worker and community needs.
Why Those Harmed By Coal Pollution Need To Be Heard As Coal Plants Shut Down
As Indiana coal plants close, environmental justice advocates want decision-makers to hear from communities harmed by decades of coal-related pollution.
Arizona utility offers $169 million transition deal with Navajo
As three coal plants and mines wind down, a plan for what comes next.
Young People Discuss the Path Forward for Their Coal-Impacted Communities
“I want to stay. I just love it here. I don’t know what living here is going to look like or how I’m going to provide income for myself and my family...But I just love the area even though we’re on such a downhill when it comes to [things] economically.”
As Virginia Moves Toward 100% Clean Energy, Advocates Work to Ensure Benefits Reach Coal Communities
Policy hurdles prevent schools and other public institutions in Southwest Virginia from adopting solar energy and capturing its economic benefits.
A Colorado Town Sees Opportunities Despite Announced Coal Closures and Pandemic
Tourism, retail, and real estate markets have grown in the town of Craig, providing a spark to its transition planning efforts.
The Debate Over Carbon Capture in a New Mexico City
While proponents cite local coal job retention, others are skeptical of high costs and impacts on nearby people and environments.
Germany’s Lessons for the U.S. Coal Transition
Despite challenges of its own, the country’s approach to phasing out coal is a useful guide to how the United States can ensure a just transition for workers and communities.
Opinion: A Fair and Responsible Transition to Clean Energy
“The question is whether we watch passively from the sidelines or try to direct this once-in-a-lifetime transition in ways that are efficient for energy producers, affordable for energy consumers, fair for workers, and sustainable in our use of earth’s resources.”
Brandon Dennison Shares His Perspective On an Equitable Economic Transition for Coal Communities
“Those most affected by coal’s collapse don’t have to be collateral damage in the transition to renewable energy; we can be the leaders of an entirely new and better economy. In fact, I believe Appalachians have the exact skills our country will need to remain globally competitive in this new, more sustainable economy.”
Anthony Flaccavento Applies Lessons from the Tobacco Transition to the Coal Transition
For Flaccavento, the National Economic Transition platform provides the investment needed for Appalachian communities to navigate a second economic transition.
Indiana Policymakers Forge a Complicated Transition From Coal to Renewables
As the state’s utilities move toward renewables, recent legislation aims to keep coal in use.
Appalachia’s Unreclaimed Mine Land Threatened by Coal Bankruptcies
As coal companies struggle to transfer their mining permits during bankruptcy, environmental liabilities are unaccounted for.
Research Estimates Utility-Scale Solar’s Economic Potential in Appalachian Ohio
A new report says that large solar developments could create tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity in the region.
Letter: State Needs to Lead Transition from Coal
“The people of Illinois have had a long-standing, proud history of providing energy for families across the state. Let’s continue our proud history by moving forward into a legacy where we can provide a just transition to a new energy economy.”
Report Outlines Benefits of Environmental and Infrastructure Spending for Communities in Transition
The second report in a just transition policy series analyzes the economic impacts of federal programs for environmental remediation and infrastructure.
Coal Country Confronts Industry’s Future, Sees Solutions in Policy
As coal continues to decline, communities from West Virginia to Wyoming see a need for state and federal policy support.
Op-Ed: To Fight Climate Change, Strand Fossil Fuel Assets, Not Workers
“A national just transition policy that drives unprecedented public investment into fossil fuel-dependent communities is a moral imperative. It is also a political one if we hope to take ambitious climate action.”
Mine Reclamation Projects Stimulate Wyoming’s Pandemic-Stricken Economy
The state expects to complete 96 projects, generating a total of $201 million for local economies, by the end of the year.
Wind and Solar Industries Rise in Wyoming Coal Country
Local workers, residents, and leaders adjust to a changing energy landscape.
Coal Country Envisions Paths Forward in Manufacturing, Reclamation, and Renewables
Communities in West Virginia and Wyoming are developing diverse industries based on their local strengths.
Colorado’s Just Transition Advisory Committee Releases Rough Draft of Just Transition Plan
The draft plan includes recommendations for worker benefits, local transition plans, and community investment.
Minnesota Communities Prepare for the End of Coal-Powered Generation
Local officials and nonprofits are exploring solutions to the economic impacts of future coal plant closures
Op-ed: Utilities Must Commit to Invest in Communities in Move from Coal
"The rapidly changing energy landscape makes it critical for the burdens of fossil fuel workers and communities to be assessed in all utility planning, so that we aren’t left behind, once again."
“Reclaiming and Growing Wyoming’s Future" with Transition Planning Resources
The Powder River Basin Resource Council launched a four-part webinar series during the COVID-19 pandemic to help communities in Wyoming and beyond prepare for the ongoing transition from coal.
Making Tough Decisions in New Mexico During the Transition to Renewables
As the state moves to 100% renewable energy, communities that relied on coal facilities for jobs and economic growth are pushing for equity in emerging clean energy opportunities.
In Saskatchewan, public funding for transition
Two small communities are sharing $10 million in provincial-government reinvestment funds to help workers and businesses affected by the shutdown of local coal plants.
Commentary: A post-coal future for Hopi and Navajo
With proper resources and visionary leadership, tribal communities in northern Arizona can reinvent their economies.
Commentary: Germany leads U.S. on transition planning
“As activists, lawmakers, and communities grapple with how to handle the economic, environmental, and social changes, many are asking how we ensure that transition is just,” the author writes.
Commentary: Utility giant’s six-state transition strategy will create national ripples
PacifiCorp is setting the industry pace in a shift toward solar and battery storage, a strategy likely to influence electricity-production companies across the board.
German national program will put US$15 billion into local coal-transition investments
"The regions can use the financial support to boost the economy in a wide range of areas, such as business-related infrastructure, improving public transport, broadband infrastructure, environmental protection and landscape management.”
Imminent closure of Navajo plant stirs uncertainty
The transition question looms large in northern Arizona: “How to ensure positive environmental change doesn’t come at a crippling economic cost for some of America’s most marginalized communities.”
Commentary: Keeping workers and communities in mind
The transition to a stronger and greener economy must happen “in such a way that grows family-sustaining jobs and makes our communities healthier and more resilient.”
Coalfield communities seek policy redress in energy transition
“The fact that coal isn’t coming back doesn’t mean that Appalachia has no future,” said Brandon Dennis, CEO of Coalfield Development Corporation, one of several community advocates who spoke to a congressional panel last week.
Hazard, Kentucky: Retooling for a post-coal economy
At the vanguard of a regional push for a “post-coal Appalachia,” the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development seeks a paradigm that is “more sustainable, more diverse, more equitable and more resilient.”
Report: A fair transition requires publicly funded justice for all
A World Bank report underscores the role of public policy in managing a post-coal transition, concluding that governments must bear costs “of physical closure of mines and labor transition programs.”
Op-ed: Just transition for rural Colorado
A labor leader lauds Denver’s mayor for an initiative that aims to make the city a renewable energy bastion over the next generation, but urges leaders to invest in rural communities, too, where railroad employees, pipe fitters and power plant specialists are being displaced by the electricity-production transition occurring nationally. “Workers who have toiled in the mines, hauled our coal, and operated our power plants for decades deserve our support as we move towards new ways of generating energy,” writes Joshua Downer of the AFL-CIO.
Midwest receives greater transition focus
JTF, long active in Appalachia and in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, sees the Illinois Basin, which underlies much of the state, as an area of growing need. “It’s important to note that what a just transition looks like is different in different places,” said Heidi Binko, JTF’s executive director.
Commentary: North American utility shift driven by ‘good business sense’
A recent industry survey has 80 percent of 600 utility executives in the U.S. and Canada expecting electricity generation markets to continue to embrace clean energy models in a move driven by business practicalities. “Programs to help customers save energy, and solar and wind energy are cheaper in most places than almost any other resource to meet customer energy needs, including coal and gas, and getting cheaper all the time,” writes the author.
IEEFA Update: The Saudi Arabia of Solar? American Indian Country
Energy Transition Openings Now in the Four-Corners Region of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah
Biggest Utility in Kentucky Sees Coal Accounting for Little of Its Future Electricity Generation
PPL, the company that owns Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric has published a transition analyst in which it sees natural gas and renewables accounting for 80 percent of its electricity: “Just by virtue of [economics], you’re going to have substantial reductions and when you look out to 2050, substantial retirements of our coal-fired units will have happened by then.”
Op-Ed: Virginia Can Capitalize on New Energy Opportunities
Virginia lags its neighboring states in embracing transformational market forces and developing a modern energy economy. “We already know what the status quo costs our communities. But we haven’t seen what happens when we invest in local advanced energy businesses and jobs.”
Op-Ed: As Transition Unfolds, Local Ownership Will be Key
An op-ed writer in New Mexico makes the case against utility monopoly control of fast-growing solar energy resources: “The promise of the advanced energy economy goes beyond a cleaner environment and more sustainable power—it’s also about building a more diversified, resilient and competitive economy.”
Doubts in West Virginia Over Coal’s Future
While a hearing this week on repeal of the federal Clean Power Plant drew vocal support in West Virginia, some residents used it as an opportunity to talk about a post-coal future. “People in Appalachia are starting to realize that we need to start thinking about additional ways to have economic development and economic activity,” says the director of Energy Efficient West Virginia. “While coal is going to continue to be part of the economy, I don’t think that anybody is under the illusion that it is going to be the main driver of the economy.”
A 22-District School Cooperative ‘Aims to Remake Coal Communities’
The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, which includes 22 school districts, is promoting new possibilities for a region that has been overly reliant on coal mining. “It’s called the resource curse in economics … When you have a company town, what tends to happen over time is you crowd out the potential of other industry to make a case for their future.”
Buffalo’s Transition Turns on Clean Energy Economy
PUSH Buffalo, a community group focused on urban development, is promoting career development in the growing clean energy economy “as the world moves to more efficient, renewable, distributed energy sources.”
A Move in Congress to Invest in Coal Country
Three members of Congress are co-sponsoring the America Wins Act, a proposal to invest $1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure with a special focus on communities hard hit by the coal industry downturn. The bill would be funded by a tax on carbon emissions, and would earmark $5 billion a year for economic transition.
Utility Executives See Transition Continuing
“‘Sometimes you have to let go of your past’ to prepare for the future’” said one member of a panel of utility executives who see “a tremendous movement away from coal.” Among the companies represented this week at a Florida forum hosted by the Edison Electric Institute: PNM of New Mexico, Hawaii Electric Industries, El Paso Electric and Alliant Energy of Wisconsin.
Commentary: Planning for a Future Beyond Coal
The challenges facing Colstrip, Mont., are a microcosm of those seen in similar communities nationally: “Coal states across the country face a similar future, and while heel-dragging may help coal company owners maximize their profit in the short-term, it does nothing for coal miners and their families.”
Pennsylvania Coal Town Resembles Many Left in Transition Lurch
Homer City, Penn., is typical of communities facing difficult economic transition as its coal-fired power plant, faces likely closure. “Reality has triumphed over wishful thinking,” says one local coal broker.
Ohio Businesses Oppose Bill to Slow Electricity-Generation
Major companies in Ohio, an important consumer of Appalachian coal, are fighting a legislative proposal to slow the state’s transition to clean energy. Among them: Gap Inc., Ikea North America, Nestle, and Cliff Bar & Co. Ohio has also become a hotbed for companies that are turning entirely to renewable energy, including Facebook and General Motors.
Op-Ed: One Community’s Post-Coal Transition
The president of an upstate New York teachers’ association explains how the town of Tonawanda united educational interests, government leaders, labor, and other activists “to close the revenue gap” after NRG closed the Huntley Power Generating Station.