“Feds Should Help” With Coalfields Transition
Monday, July 7, 2014
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Government programs could help communities adapt to a future with less mining, say regional economic groups.
In the past, the federal government has helped areas hit by international trade and a decline in tobacco farming.
Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said similar efforts are just beginning in West Virgina. According to Bailey, the nation owes coal-dependent areas economic help.
"Central Appalachian coal, the work that has been done by generations of miners, helped to power the strongest economy in the world," said Bailey. "I don't think that's a responsibility that's been fulfilled yet."
The White House recently announced that part of eastern Kentucky would be declared a 'Promise Zone,' a federal initiative to help high-poverty communities through job creation.
Mining industry officials say job declines can be reversed by loosening federal environmental rules.
But Bailey insisted that, even if the Environmental Protection Agency were to shut down immediately, easy-to-get coal has been mined out. He concluded that after more than a century of mining, Appalachian coal is too expensive to compete in the energy market.
"It's very unlikely that central Appalachian coal will regain the predominance that it once had," said Bailey. "The declining coal resource and the expense which it takes to mine the coal that's left is not going to change."
Bailey stressed that an effective transition to other jobs has to come from more than just training. Without community involvement, ex-miners could retrain for jobs that only exist elsewhere.
Bailey recalled the federal government's assistance of towns hit by military base closings following the Cold War.
"When they're closed or greatly cut back, there's resources and a process of community planning," said Bailey. "And a real, on-the-ground, practical look at what opportunities are there in the future. What are the assets?"
Bailey added that Kentucky has taken some first steps in that direction, with the Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative. But to work, according to Bailey, any transition program takes money. And that's part of the federal responsibility.
get more stories like this via email
California tribes are headed to the White House Tribal Nations Summit tomorrow, where they will ask Congress and the Biden administration to create …
A new report shows Maine is exceeding the home-heating goals set forth in its ambitious four-year climate plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions…
By India Gardener / Broadcast version by Nadia Ramlagan reporting for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration. According to Attorney …
It's estimated that one in three Kentuckians struggles to pay medical bills, and the issue continues to be a driving factor in personal bankruptcy …
Senate lawmakers are soon expected to vote on the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act, legislation introduced this year by Republican Sen…
Health and Wellness
A new program in Utah wants to help first responders learn to recognize and work through their traumatic life events through horsemanship. This …
Health and Wellness
A coalition of Nevada groups is behind a statewide effort to make Nevada an Employment First state. That would align the state with a U.S. Labor …
Government accountability groups want increased transparency in New York criminal court decisions. This comes after a new report finds only 6% of …