The Biden administration has announced a Coal Communities Commitment that allocates $300 million in the American Rescue Plan to hard-hit coal and energy communities.
The White House has made a frequent effort to highlight economic growth since Biden took office, going from 60,000 jobs created a month to 60,000 jobs every three days.
Yet amidst economic success, coal and energy communities have struggled to stay afloat. Nationwide dependence on coal will have dropped to 10% by 2025. In 2020 the coal industry was met with the lowest level of production in the United States in any year since 1965.
The funding commitment is the largest dedicated support for funding of coal communities in the history of the Economic Development Administration. It’s part of the larger American Rescue Plan, a focus of Biden’s policy push.
Presidential commitments to the coal community have varied throughout the years, but Biden laid down his support early on in his tenure. During his first week in office, Biden established an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization to coordinate a whole of government approach to helping energy communities.
The coal commitment is 10% of the EDA’s broader announcement of $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan to invest in American communities, aimed at helping different economies recover and improve resiliency.
The long-standing coal industry will be provided with opportunities to recover from a harsh pandemic hit. The funding will also allow the development or expansion of new industry sectors as different forms of energy grow in popularity.
The EDA’s coal community support will also extend beyond pure funding. The EDA will hire a coal communities coordinator to work closely with stakeholders on a cross-functional team to complete the goals of the commitment.
They’ll also provide coal communities the opportunity to access other American Rescue Plan Notice of Funding Opportunities where they can apply for funding on three to eight projects aligned with regional development strategies.
The coal commitment is only one part of the Biden administration’s efforts to benefit the industry, as the Department of the Interior has already mobilized over $260 million in existing resources this year to support abandoned mine land reclamation projects.
“We’re never going to forget the men and women who dug the coal and built the nation,” said Biden in previous remarks on climate policy, “we’re going to do right by them.”