America’s energy transition is well underway. Prioritizing and targeting federal resources to workers and communities in places impacted by this shift needs to be a deliberate choice. For generations, coal-dependent areas—whether in Appalachia, the West, or those surrounding coal-based energy generation plants—have built their economies around coal, not only for the employment of their citizens but for the revenue that supports their schools, infrastructure, and small businesses. As demand for coal decreases, these communities face an uncertain future. Mine land reclamation and reuse not only addresses the host of environmental and health problems associated with these sites but also frees up that land for new economic development opportunities. Cleaning up mine lands can also create immediate job opportunities, especially when prioritized for dislocated workers.
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