Demand A Brighter Future For Struggling Coal Towns

477 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal

1.59% Complete

Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Hundreds of coal mines are being shut down. Demand support for those threatened by unemployment and underfunded public services.


Hundreds of coal plants that once generated electricity for communities across the United States are being shut down in the coming years. This is a big win for the environment and health of all Americans, but could lead to rampant unemployment and underfunded public resources in these areas.

The community of Boone County, West Virginia, watched its schools, roads, and other public resources bear the brunt of a 50% decrease in funding after coal mine closures1. Workers laid off from Redhawk mine in Floyd County, Kentucky, lost their income and their health insurance2. Businesses and rural health care facilities near mines in Powder River Basin, Wyoming, are facing closures themselves because of economic hardships stemming from mine closures and the COVID pandemic3.

In Arizona, where several power plants employ hundreds of Native Americans, the state has a plan to support residents and businesses as they transition away from fossil fuel4.

The Arizona Corporation Commission has proposed distributing $144.5 million to communities affected by the closure of these plants, over the course of the next 10 years. The money is hoped to offset a loss of tax revenue in the affected communities, spur new economic development, as well as cover residential and commercial electricity costs in the Navajo Nation, while supporting new renewable energy projects in the region5.

Germany and Canada have each adopted national plans to support communities in their transition from coal6. Elsewhere in the U.S., New Mexico has taken action with the Energy Transition Act of 20197, and Colorado with Just Transition Action Plan of 20208.

Many coal mining towns are rural and isolated, with few other opportunities for well-paying jobs in the area. Other businesses in the community either support mining activities or depend on coal miners as customers6.

Economic support plans are needed to keep these communities afloat as they transition away from fossil fuel.

Successful policies will replace lost revenue from coal and fund local services, infrastructure, and institutions with stable and diverse sources. Communities will be given resources to invest throughout the duration of coal activity and transition in assets that continue to generate wealth after coal revenue declines9.

Arizona's plan to help its communities transition away from coal has substantial backing but communities are still reeling from mine closures in Kentucky. Sign the petition below and demand the Governor of Kentucky follow Arizona's lead in supporting hardworking Americans!

More on this issue:

  1. Environmental Defense Fund (11 August 2020), "How the clean energy transition affects workers and communities."
  2. Michael Sainato, The Guardian (29 May 2020), "The collapse of coal: pandemic accelerates Appalachia job losses."
  3. Mason Adams and Dustin Bleizeffer, Energy News Network (25 June 2020), "Coal country faces a healthcare crisis."
  4. Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic (6 November 2020), "APS offering $144M to Arizona tribes and others affected by coal plant closures."
  5. Miranda Willson, E&E News (6 October 2021), "‘Historic’ Ariz. plan for coal towns may ripple nationally."
  6. Union of Concerned Scientists and the Utility Workers Union of America (April 2021), "Supporting the Nation’s Coal Workers and Communities in a Changing Energy Landscape."
  7. Office of the Governor, State of New Mexico (22 March 2019), "Governor signs landmark energy legislation, establishing New Mexico as a national leader in renewable transition efforts."
  8. Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (August 2021), "Colorado Just Transition Action Plan."
  9. Headwaters Economics (September 2019), "Replacing Coal Revenue and Investing in Economic Transition: Solutions for Coal-Dependent Communities."
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The Petition:

To the Governor of Kentucky,

Hundreds of coal mines are going to be shut down, as we transition our energy sector to cleaner sources of fuel, and many of these mines are in your state.

Unemployment and slashed tax revenues have followed nearly every coal mine closing in the United States, except for those where the state has offered a comprehensive plan to support residents and businesses through the transition. New Mexico's Energy Transition Act of 2019 and Colorado's Just Transition Action Plan of 2020 both stand out as successful examples, having replaced lost revenue from coal and fund local services, infrastructure, and institutions with stable and diverse sources. Moreover, these communities now have resources to invest throughout the duration of coal activity and transition in assets that continue to generate wealth after coal revenue declines.

In Arizona, where several power plants employ hundreds of Native Americans, the state may soon begin distributing $144.5 million to communities affected by the closure of these plants, to support residents and businesses as they transition away from fossil fuel.

Muhlenberg and Webster counties in Kentucky meet eight of the 10 criteria the Union of Concerend Scientists use for evaluating the severity of the economic fallout from coal’s decline. The residents of these communities and many others near them may face severe hardships if support is lacking in the coming years.

Moving away from coal should benefit the health and wellbeing of all Americans. I ask that you put an economic support plan in place for coal mine communities so that none must suffer for this benefit to come about.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: