ReImagine Appalachia Q&A

 The recently unveiled ReImagine Appalachia campaign is a multi-faceted effort to expand economic opportunity in the region while reducing greenhouse gas emissions deriving from area extraction industries. Boosted by a broad and diverse coalition of organizations from West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio, ReImagine Appalachia’s steering committee hosted a lively real-time Q&A session via Twitter on July 23.

Participants responded to questions on the campaign’s policy blueprint as well as its potential impact on a vibrant if underserved region of the country. Though their answers varied, contributors agreed that the proposed “Green New Deal” can fight climate change and significantly improve Appalachia’s economy:

Q1: What is the #ReImagineAppalachia Coalition and why did you or your organization sign up to be a part of it?

West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy:  WVCBP joined #ReImagineAppalachia because we know Appalachia – and West Virginia- need to be at the table or it will be on the menu when it comes to climate and economic policy, especially as states and communities develop programs and policies to recover from COVID 19. #NewDeal4Us

PennFuture: We support good-paying, sustainable jobs while also protecting our land, air and water! #ReImagineAppalachia

 

Q2: What do you love about Appalachia? #ReImagineAppalachia

Breathe Project: The beautiful people, hardworking spirit, rolling green hills and #cleanair! #ReImagineAppalachia

WVCBP: The relationship between neighbors and the community, the resiliency of hardworking people, and the belief in helping each other in times of need. Oh, and we can’t forget the mountains and nature! #ReImagineAppalachia #NewDeal4Us

 

Q3: What policy in the blueprint we released this week makes you most excited and why? #ReImagineAppalachia

Breathe Project: Millions of #jobs are available if our people elect leaders that insist on a more just and equitable future for all people. #ReImagineAppalachia

Policy Matters Ohio: #ReImagineAppalachia identifies our common ground and our common humanity at a time when the wealthy and powerful seek to divide us. The #NewDeal4Us works for all of us, no matter what we look like, where we’re from, or how much $ we have.

 

Q4: Appalachia is rich in natural resources and has supplied essential materials for the nation’s progress. So why aren’t the people in the region doing better? #ReImagineAppalachia

WVCBP: We are abundant with natural resources, and West Virginians have worked hard for decades to supply the U.S. But those same resources have been extracted by mostly out-of-state companies that don’t invest in our communities. #ReImagineAppalachia #NewDeal4Us

Policy Matters Ohio: Our region has generated enormous wealth – for people in other regions. Absentee corporations get policymakers to rig the rules so they can duck their responsibilities to working people, families, and the land, water and air. #ReImagineAppalachia

 

Q5: How has the COVID-19 pandemic and recession it’s causing affected the people and communities in Appalachia? #ReImagineAppalachia

 PennFuture: The global health crisis of COVID-19 has highlighted the inequities within the region, and has especially shown us how important it is to expand broadband so vulnerable communities are not left behind. #ReImagineAppalachia

WVCBP: COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated long-standing health and economic inequalities in West Virginia. Our economy was struggling prior to this crisis and even more families are hurting now, with spikes in joblessness and food and housing insecurity. #ReImagineAppalachia #NewDeal4Us

 

Q6: What would the blueprint do to repair past damage to Appalachia’s land and environment? As well as past damage to people’s health? #ReImagineAppalachia

Policy Matters Ohio: Our new economy will involve repairing damage done by the old one. We need to reforest the region, restore wetlands, remediate coal ash ponds, reclaim abandoned mines and cap orphan wells – all of which should be done by our people working good union jobs! #ReImagineAppalachia

PennFuture: The #ReImagineAppalachia blueprint calls for an increase in clean energy jobs. According to a @CarnegieMellon study, wind and solar achieve greater health and climate benefits in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania because they replace electricity generation by coal plants.

 

Q7: How would the blueprint help the region lay the groundwork for better-paying jobs with better benefits?

Breathe Project: Our 4 states have 10% of the U.S. jobs, which should give us a bigger share of the federal investment. So the #ReImagineAppalachia blueprint should create MORE THAN 1.4 MILLION jobs.

Policy Matters Ohio: #NewDeal4Us draws federal $ to create good union jobs:

  • Modernizing our electric grid!
  • Making our transportation system sustainable!
  • Growing manufacturing by making it cleaner and more energy efficient!
  • Reviving Civilian Conservation Corps!

#ReImagineAppalachia

 

Q8: How will #ReImagineAppalachia include the people who worked in fossil fuels?  

WVCBP: A stronger and healthier Appalachia is only strong if it includes everyone!  #ReImagineAppalachia isn’t just advocating for state-level policies, it’s community focused, too. Funding will be devoted to communities that have depended on fossil fuels and employ local residents.

PennFuture: Workers in extractive industries – mine workers, union electricians, laborers and other trades – have foundational skills that remain critically important in the work going forward. They should be targeted for new opportunities created from public investments. #ReImagineAppalachia

 

Q9: The #ReImagineAppalachia blueprint draws a lot of inspiration from FDR’s New Deal? How is it similar and how is it different?

Policy Matters Ohio: FDR’s New Deal brought electricity to Appalachia. #NewDeal4Us will modernize the grid, creating tons of good union jobs for electrical workers. #ReImagineAppalachia

FDR’s New Deal also created the Civilian Conservation Corps. #NewDeal4Us revives it and corrects past injustice by making Corps jobs accessible to women, Black, indigenous and other people of color, and by giving communities a voice in Corps projects. #ReImagineAppalachia

 

Q10: Do you see potential for Appalachia in any of the COVID relief packages or proposals put forward by the Biden or Trump campaigns? #ReImagineAppalachia

WVCBP: Instead of false promises of the revival of the coal industry, candidates and Congress must invest in the future of Appalachia – a future where good-paying jobs in renewable energy bring economic gain to WV’ains rather than out-of-state corporations. #ReImagineAppalachia

 

Q11: What makes you optimistic about the future of Appalachia? 

Policy Matters Ohio: People here in Appalachia want what people everywhere want:

  • A better future for our kids and grandkids
  • Good jobs with fair pay and safe working conditions
  • Healthy lives, land, water and air

We’re optimistic because #NewDeal4Us gets us there! #ReImagineAppalachia