BlueGreen Alliance | Hard-Hit Communities Deserve Equitable Federal Investments  

Hard-Hit Communities Deserve Equitable Federal Investments  

August 3, 2023

For the first time in more than a generation, the federal government is investing hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild our infrastructure, revitalize manufacturing, and build a clean economy that supports a livable climate. This historic wave of funding offers a hard-fought opportunity to help redress longstanding economic, racial, and environmental injustices by investing in communities who’ve endured decades of divestment.

The agents of our economic transformation should be the communities that have been excluded by racist practices like redlining, hollowed out by the loss of manufacturing jobs under unfair trade deals, impacted by energy transition, and saddled with health burdens by environmental injustice. Strong equity and labor standards can help equip hard-hit communities to translate the investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act into higher-paying jobs, cleaner air, improved health, and stronger local economies.

ABOUT THE MAP

The map above shows three types of hard-hit communities:

  • Disadvantaged communities identified under the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative;
  • Communities with recent closures of coal mines or coal-fired power plants; and
  • Deindustrialized communities, as described below.

Use the layers button on the top right to select the layers you want displayed. On the top left, use the home button and zoom buttons to adjust your view. The location button on the left lets you see your immediate area (may require you to allow location services on your device). You can hold your mouse over a community to see more information on why it is included. If you’re having trouble viewing the map, click here

The map also includes the U.S. industrial base for the clean economy: all known manufacturing facilities making critical components for the growing solar, wind, battery, efficient buildings, and electric grid sectors. The overlap with hard-hit communities reveals the opportunity to use new federal investments in clean manufacturing to help reverse the history of chronic underinvestment that these communities have endured.

Justice40 Communities: Systemic racism, economic inequality, and environmental injustice are knotted into the many challenges we face as we work to build a clean, healthy, and thriving economy for all. The Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative aims to ensure that 40% of the benefits of climate, environmental, and clean energy federal investments, including certain BIL and Inflation Reduction Act investments, go to disadvantaged communities that have faced disproportionate environmental, economic, and health burdens. The BlueGreen Alliance strongly supports the Justice40 Initiative and, alongside our allies, urges that at least 40% of the relevant funding go to disadvantaged communities. The map above shows all disadvantaged communities that the White House Council on Environmental Quality has identified via a Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool for purposes of the Justice40 Initiative.

Coal Communities: As we build a clean economy, we must not leave workers or communities behind. A transition that is fair for workers and communities will not happen organically. We must choose to keep our communities and workers whole by investing in economic development and diversification in regions impacted by energy transition. The Inflation Reduction Act and BIL make critical investments in workers and communities traditionally dependent on fossil fuels, including programs that direct manufacturing investments to communities that have experienced recent coal closures. The map above shows these coal communities, as identified by the U.S. Department of Energy for purposes of the Inflation Reduction Act’s 48C manufacturing tax credit and BIL’s Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program.

Deindustrialized Communities: The erosion of U.S. manufacturing in recent decades not only weakened our economy as a whole, but also contributed to deep economic insecurity in industrial communities. Manufacturing workers lost a source of good, high-paying union jobs, while their communities lost the tax revenue critical for essential public services and thriving local economies. The impacts were not evenly distributed, but sharply concentrated in particular communities. CHIPS, BIL, and the Inflation Reduction Act present a historic opportunity to revitalize deindustrialized communities—the Inflation Reduction Act alone offers more than $50 billion in clean manufacturing investments. By channeling industrial sector investments to deindustrialized communities, we can expand access to higher-paying manufacturing jobs and economic development in areas hollowed out by the loss of manufacturing. The map above shows particularly deindustrialized communities: counties with an above-average decline in the manufacturing workforce since the late 1970s and with higher-than-average unemployment or lower-than-average wages today.

CONCLUSION

If these and other hard-hit communities are equipped to steer federal investments to meet on-the-ground needs, BIL, CHIPS, and Inflation Reduction Act funding can enable meaningful economic, health, and environmental benefits for those who’ve borne the brunt of the unjust status quo. If we get the details right, we have a real opportunity to help chart a path toward a more just economy.