Biden task force targets jobs for fossil fuel communities

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Six major regions of the country whose economies depend on fossil fuels have been targeted for federal investment and help to create jobs in renewable energy, as detailed in a new report from the administration of President Joe Biden.

The report released on Friday is part of Biden’s plan to reduce the United States’ use of coal and other fossil fuels to combat climate change. The White House hosted a world summit this week, and Biden announced plans to halve U.S. coal and oil emissions by 2030.

The report, developed by a multi-agency task force, identifies $ 37.9 billion in funding currently available in a wide variety of departments that can help support job creation, rural infrastructure and remission. in abandoned mining land.

“President Biden is committed to providing federal leadership in partnership with the coal, oil and gas and power communities to create well-paying union jobs, spur economic revitalization, address the degradation of the environment and supporting energy workers, ”the report says.

One of the hardest hit regions is the land of coal. The report seeks to immediately focus on the 25 regions most reliant on coal, with the Appalachians at the top of the list, in addition to Alaska and western states such as Wyoming and Utah. The Department of Energy will begin accepting requests for $ 75 million in funding for carbon capture and storage technology, the report said.

Another $ 19.5 million will be available for the extraction of critical minerals that can be used to develop batteries, magnets and components for electric vehicles.

The report also identifies available funding and subsidies to develop rural broadband, upgrade coal-affected water treatment facilities, and promote infrastructure projects that can create jobs.

This is the group’s first report on coal and power plant communities since Biden’s decree in late January that aims to “tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad.”

Experts say greenhouse gas emissions dangerously heat Earth’s climate and worsen floods, droughts and other natural disasters.

The group plans to hold a series of public meetings between Biden officials and major coal mining communities, which also include areas in Illinois, New Mexico, Arizona, Indiana and Texas.

Coal employment has grown from 175,000 jobs in 1985 to 40,000 jobs in 2020, according to the report.

In West Virginia, Republican leaders have opposed the Democratic President’s agenda on climate change. Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said on Friday he could go to court to fight the “transformational changes” Biden promised to reduce pollutants.

“We shouldn’t be rushing towards this plan for 2030,” Morrisey said.

West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a businessman invested in coal companies, has said he opposes Biden’s plan to accelerate the reduction in coal use, but said: “At the same time, with our diversification and where we’re going in West Virginia. , Everything will be alright.

Others are more supportive of Biden’s efforts. The country’s largest coal miners union said on Monday it would agree to the president’s plan to move away from coal and other fossil fuels in exchange for a “true energy transition” that includes thousands of jobs in renewables and spending on technology to make coal cleaner.

Cecil Roberts, president of United Mine Workers of America, said securing jobs for displaced miners – including 7,000 coal workers who lost their jobs last year – is crucial for any infrastructure bill passed by the Congress.

Brian Anderson, a West Virginian who is director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory, leads the Biden Energy Communities Task Force.

“More Western Virginians need a seat at the table, and I have no doubts that Brian will act in the best interests of the people of our state,” Republican US Senator Shelley Moore Capito said in a tweet.

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