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Advocacy Groups Unveil Plan For A 21st Century Coal-County Economy

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young
Ohio Valley ReSource

Environmental and economic advocacy groups from coal-producing parts of the country unveiled a policy agenda on Monday to help coal-reliant communities make a transition to a more sustainable future.

The plan includes items that have long been on the wish list for groups like Appalachian Voices and the Just Transition Fund, both of which were involved in drafting the plan. Items include creating jobs in coal-mine reclamation and investing federal dollars in infrastructure improvements.

The plan, which drafters are calling the National Economic Transition Platform, focuses on the needs of coal-reliant communities across the country, drawing connections between the challenges faced in West Virginia and Appalachian Kentucky to those faced in the Navajo Nation hundreds of miles away.

“The workers in the communities that gave the most to power our nation in the last century should be among the first to benefit from and to create the new economy that’s emerging in the 21st century,” said Adam Wells, the Regional Director of Community and Economic Development for Appalachian Voices.

Wells said the needs of coal-reliant communities are so high that coordinated federal intervention is necessary. “If we want the communities where we live to continue to be good places to live, there has got to be a disciplined and thoughtful, bottom-up intervention that happens to bring our economy and our social support systems into the 21st century,” Wells said. “And so failure is not an option here.”

Wells and others involved in the plan hope to present the plan to lawmakers and candidates at all levels of government, both to hold them accountable to coal communities and in the hopes that lawmakers would turn the plan into legislation in the coming years.

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