Across the United States, jobs in the coal industry are declining due to a combination of lower natural gas prices, rising coal costs, increased energy efficiency, and investments in renewable energy. At the same time, the need for meaningful action on the climate crisis has never been greater, with many states pursuing progressive climate policies in the absence of federal leadership. As states move to address the climate crisis, there is a growing need to ensure that this energy transition creates opportunities for impacted communities and workers—a need only exacerbated by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing calls to address systemic racism at all levels of American society.
This case study focuses on the passage of first-of-its-kind just transition legislation in Colorado, which provides valuable lessons to advocates for coal communities and workers in other states and a glimpse into the challenges that lie ahead.
In 2019, labor and environmental advocates in Colorado joined forces to pass HB 19-1314, landmark legislation which established a Just Transition Office in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
The bill also created a Just Transition Advisory Committee, tasked with the development of a just transition plan for the State of Colorado. This case study draws on research and interviews with key players involved with Colorado’s just transition legislation to inform future advocates of key lessons learned and of the challenges and questions still on the horizon