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Build Back Better Framework Sets Stage for Historic, Job-Creating Investment in Healthier, More Prosperous Future for Appalachia
ReImagine Appalachia heralded the framework as transformative for West Virginia and the Ohio River Valley, and urged congressional leaders to quickly pass it and the bipartisan bill, then get to work delivering the opportunity and shared prosperity coal country needs
Appalachia (October 28, 2021) — The newly unveiled Build Back Better Framework and the bipartisan infrastructure framework that passed the Senate in August will make the largest ever investments in job-creating climate action in Congress’ history.
“The Build Back Better Framework announced today will deliver the largest investment in world history for job-creating climate investment that makes possible a bright new future for Appalachian coal country,” said Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio, co-director of ReImagine Appalachia. “It will improve the lives of all in our region—Black, brown and white, those with low, moderate, and high incomes, young and old, rural areas and urban centers.”
“By investing in reducing carbon emissions in every part of our economy—our electric grid, industry, transportation including rail and electric vehicles, and buildings—and absorbing more carbon through conservation and in agriculture, the two-part package poised for passage will create millions of jobs, many in the unionized trades and clean manufacturing,” said Stephen Herzenberg of Keystone Research Center and co-director of ReImagine Appalachia.
Taken together, the two packages invest ambitiously in every part of the ReImagine Appalachia climate infrastructure plan unveiled in July 2020.
- Modernizing the grid and promoting the expansion of renewable energy.
- Growing manufacturing by making it cleaner and more efficient.
- Creating a new Civilian Climate Corps – with over 300,000 members that look like America. This diverse new workforce will conserve our public lands, bolster community resilience, and address the changing climate, all while putting good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans.
- Transforming agriculture to increase its absorption of carbon and support healthier, locally grown foods.
- Repairing the damage from extraction, including by cleaning up abandoned mine land and capping uncapped orphan gas and oil wells—many of the jobs that result from this unprecedented investment will be created in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky because those states account for much of the nation’s damaged lands.
- And building a sustainable transportation system.
“We cannot afford not to make these investments,” said Woodrum. “The cost of inaction would be catastrophic. The good news for regular people is that the two-part package is paid for by asking the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans to pay more. No one making under $400,000, the vast majority of Appalachians, will pay more in taxes.”
“Today is a good day for West Virginia. The agreement will help many working families in the state and create a healthier, safer and more prosperous future,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “West Virginia has much to gain from these unprecedented investments – they will unlock opportunities for our workers to continue to help power the nation through incentives to develop clean energy infrastructure and manufacturing where it’s needed most.”
The ReImagine Appalachia coalition was created through a broad recognition that the economy has not been working for most Appalachians. The coalition’s plans show concrete opportunities for progress where local ownership is prioritized, prosperity is shared, everyone is paid enough to support themselves and their family, future generations can put down roots, and all people have clean air to breathe and water to drink. For further information on economic plans around jobs, agriculture, manufacturing, and more, visit ReImagineAppalachia.org.