Press Statement

Press Statement: Appalachian groups urge Biden, Congress to help energy transition communities by funding the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

By May 6, 2022No Comments



Virginia Alvino Young


Appalachian groups urge Biden, Congress to help energy transition communities by funding the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

Forty Appalachian and national organizations signed onto a letter to President Joe Biden, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, urging them to prioritize Appalachian communities in the budget reconciliation package currently under negotiation in Congress. The letter highlights the need for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a plan that will address the climate crisis while creating good-paying jobs for communities that have been hit hardest by the fossil fuel industry and its decline.

“The CCC is an incredible opportunity to target natural infrastructure investments into coal country for reforesting Appalachia, restoring wetlands, remediating brownfields and repairing our damaged lands,” said the letter.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, whose opposition halted negotiations on last year’s Build Back Better Act, has said he would support a smaller budget reconciliation package that would include $555 billion in clean energy investments to help the United States reach its carbon reduction goals. 

The letter highlights several components that would help make a revitalized CCC more accessible to Appalachians who’ve been left out of the workforce, such as those caught up in the opioid epidemic and now facing significant barriers to employment. Recommendations include a basic wage of at least $15/hour and that the jobs created through the new CCC connect to apprenticeship programs and career opportunities so that participants increase access to careers through their time in the program. 

“There are many Appalachian communities that have been devastated by opioids and decades of disinvestment.  The government has historically placed prisons in these communities, but what we actually need is job training, skills, and investment in the people and the land that bring back family-sustaining wages, renewed prosperity to the region, and the vision of a future that young people want to be part of. This can be done by building out the critical infrastructure America needs to shift to a clean energy economy,” said Wendy Tarr, director of the Vincentian Ohio Action Network. 

“Originally, the CCC was designed to help America combat environmental challenges from the Dust Bowl, giving workers jobs and purpose in The Depression,” said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center who co-authored a recent report on the importance of the CCC for Appalachia. “Now we have a new environmental challenge – climate change – and millions of workers who again need jobs and a way to contribute. To reach those detached from the formal job market, non-college educated people, who make up most of the jobless, should make up the bulk of CCC members.”

“Right now, our region faces unprecedented challenges – but we also have an incredible opportunity,” said Dana Kuhnline, ReImagine Appalachia’s campaign manager. “We have a once-in-a-generation chance to respond to the climate crisis while repairing our nation’s infrastructure, cleaning up dangerous pollution, investing in working families and jumpstarting our clean energy future.”


ReImagine Appalachia

Keystone Research Center


Policy Matters Ohio

West Virginia Rivers Coalition


Allegheny County Clean Air Now (ACCAN)

Appalachian Institute, Wheeling University

Appalachian Pagan Ministry

Appalshop, Inc.

Berks Gas Truth

Blacklick Creek Watershed Assn

Breathe Project

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Christians For The Mountains

Climate Reality Project: Susquehanna Valley PA Chapter

Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR)

FreshWater Accountability Project

Friends of the Riverfront

Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity

Grounded Strategies

Kentucky Resources Council

Kentucky Waterways Alliance

Keystone Progress


League of Women Voters Pennsylvania

Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio


Ohio Environmental Council

Patricia M. DeMarco, Ph.D. Vice President Borough Council

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania 

Rail Pollution Protection Pittsburgh

Rise Up WV Education Fund

The Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator at Slippery Rock University

Vincentian Ohio Action Network

West Virginia Council of Churches

West Virginia NAACP Conference of Branches

WV Citizen Action