U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Halaand has announced that the Biden administration will invest nearly $10 million per year into a coal revitalization fund for coal communities in Colorado. The Biden administration’s Investing in America agenda will provide the funding as part of efforts to revitalize abandoned coal lands and create new job opportunities for former Colorado coal communities.
A statement from Halaand noted that “far too many” neighborhoods and waterways in rural America continue to suffer the effects of legacy pollution. As with many other American states, Colorado owes a great deal of its growth to its history of coal mining and production. However, coal is an incredibly polluting fuel, and Colorado is one of the many coal states that have spent the past few decades phasing out coal production and cutting their reliance on the dirty fuel.
The state had only eight operational coal-fired power plants by early 2019, and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) reports that currently there are only six remaining operational plants in Colorado. While these coal plant closures are integral to achieving national greenhouse emission goals, they have had a devastating impact on coal communities whose economies relied on coal mining. America’s green-energy transition has caused massive labor disruptions and cut tax revenue to support public services, significantly impacting the economies of many coal mining communities.
Consequently, Colorado Governor Jared Polis formed the Office of Just Transition in 2019 to ensure former coal workers would be treated fairly and justly through the green-energy transition. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment noted that Colorado’s coal era seems to be ending, which will significantly impact coal workers and communities in the state. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that 32.8% of Colorado’s utility-scale electricity came from coal-fired power plants as of June 2023 compared to the national average of 16.2%.
Colorado still has a long way to go in its green-energy transition, and local coal communities will likely suffer if they aren’t adequately insulated. These communities will now have access to $10 million annually from the Biden administration as well as an additional $10 million from the state of Colorado.
The Biden administration is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into revitalizing coal communities across the country by converting them into clean-energy hubs. The administration has reportedly funneled billions of dollars’ worth of federal investment into select coal communities.
These revitalizations programs are a positive undertaking because as coal extractors such as Peabody Energy Corporation (NYSE: BTU) wind up their operations in an area, those who formally depended on the mines are able to find alternative sources of employment.
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