Press Statement

Press Statement: Appalachian groups urge Biden, Congress to ensure climate action helps energy transition communities

By April 19, 2022No Comments


April 18, 2022



Dan Radmacher, (540) 798-6683),

Appalachian groups urge Biden, Congress to ensure climate action
helps energy transition communities

Appalachian groups and partner organizations sent letter urging spending for clean-energy transition that will help coal-impacted communities and others improve their economies

APPALACHIA — Today, dozens of Appalachian organizations and national partners submitted a letter to President Joe Biden, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to make sure that a budget reconciliation package under negotiation in Congress targets climate action spending in ways that help communities in coal-impacted Appalachia and elsewhere benefit from the transition to a clean-energy economy.

“The decline of the coal industry in Appalachia has left many communities in the region grappling with unemployment, low income levels, black lung disease and environmental degradation,” said the letter, which was signed by 71 Appalachian groups and seven national organizations. “The transition to a clean energy economy must be centered around justice and equity for all Americans and support communities that have historically been hit hardest by the fossil fuel industry and its decline.”

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 groups urged Congress to ensure these investments helped former coal communities and others impacted by the clean energy transition transform their economies.

“President Biden promised bold action on climate, while lifting up the fossil-fuel impacted communities that have struggled the most,” said Tom Cormons, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices. “Now is the time for Congress to fulfill that promise, creating jobs and helping to bring on a brighter economic future in places where action is deeply and urgently needed. That means getting this legislation to the finish line.”

“Our company is creating jobs in Southwest Virginia and West Virginia coal communities as we develop solar projects and savings for public schools and other public serving institutions,” said Dr. Tony Smith, President and Founder of Secure Futures, LLC, a Virginia-based certified B-Corp solar development company. “We are coping with huge uncertainties and volatility in the supply chain and the loss of U.S. solar manufacturing capacity as we build solar arrays that will generate savings for 35 years and permanent jobs in coal communities. We remain concerned that there is a narrow window of opportunity to act on this much needed legislation to sustain that momentum.” 

“Virginia’s coalfield region has great potential to become a clean energy hub while protecting our beautiful local natural resources,” said Sharon Fisher, President of The Clinch Coalition in southwestern Virginia. “We need Congress to act now to address climate change while supporting the communities that are grappling with the decline of coal and its health and environmental impacts.”

“Right now, our region faces unprecedented challenges – but we also have an incredible opportunity,” said Dana Kuhnline, ReImagine Appalachia 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. Federal investment in our infrastructure, built by our region’s skilled workforce who can pivot to help us build the future we want, can position Appalachia to once again become a global powerhouse while creating a blue collar union jobs bonanza.”

“In no part of the country is the passage of a pro-worker, pro-family reconciliation package more important than West Virginia and Appalachia,” said Kelly Allen, Executive Director, WV Center on Budget and Policy. “In order to provide a path forward for our region, we must address climate change by investing in clean energy and lower costs for workers and families by continuing health care and child care improvements made in the American Rescue Plan Act. Best of all we can pay for these investments and more by rolling back the inequitable 2017 tax cuts so that the richest Americans and corporations, who’ve seen their wealth soar over the past two years, pay their fair share in taxes.”

“I want to live in a West Virginia where young people don’t have to move away from the state they love to find opportunities,” said Holly Bradley, WV Organizer for Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “West Virginians are resilient, hardworking and we’ve learned to be adaptable because we didn’t have another choice. I wish for our elected officials to listen to our people, find common ground and ensure that our state does not get left in the literal coal dust as the rest of the nation transitions to renewable energy.”

“These unprecedented investments would mean so much for working families in West Virginia,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “Families that have sacrificed so much in the past to help power this nation deserve to prosper from the transition to clean energy rather than have their needs forgotten yet again.”

“We cannot afford to miss this opportunity,” the groups wrote in the letter. “Please act immediately to move forward on a legislative package that includes the $555 billion clean energy jobs and climate plan that will help transform coal-impacted Appalachia.” 




Appalachian Regional Groups


Appalachian Voices


AppLit: Resources for Readers and Teachers of Appalachian Literature for Children and Young Adults

Christians For The Mountains

Breathe Project 

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Christians For The Mountains

Community Housing Partners

Defenders of Wildlife, Southern Appalachian Office


Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network, Inc. (LiKEN)

Partner Community Capital, Inc.

Radford University Appalachian Regional & Rural Studies Center

ReImagine Appalachia

The Alliance for Appalachia


National Partners


Citizens Coal Council

Climate Institute 

Energy Efficiency Alliance of New Jersey

National Wildlife Federation

Pipeline Safety Coalition

Sierra Club

Tó Nizhóní Ání


Kentucky Groups


Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Kentucky Conservation Committee

Kentucky Resources Council

Mountain Association


Ohio Groups

FreshWater Accountability Project

Green Sanctuary Committee First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, OH

KO Consulting, LLC

Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio


Pennsylvania Groups


Beaver County (PA) Marcellus Awareness Community (BCMAC)

Center for Coalfield Justice

Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation 

Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance

Keystone Progress

Keystone Progress Education Fund

Keystone Research Center

Moms Clean Air Force, Pennsylvania Chapter


Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Protect Franklin Park

RER Energy Group

Solar United Neighbors of Pennsylvania


Tennessee Groups


Interfaith Worker Justice of East Tennessee

Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee

Mountain Women’s Exchange

Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM)

Woodland Community Land Trust

Woodland Community Development Corporation


Virginia Groups


Appalachian Sustainable Development

Delegate Sam Rasoul

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley

KII Industries

Preserving Grayson, Inc.

Roanoke Group, Sierra Club

Secure Futures, LLC

Shenandoah Faith and Climate

Solar United Neighbors of Virginia

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards

Bethel J. Brock, President, Southwest Virginia Black Lung Association Chapter 2

The Southwest Virginia New Economy Network 

The Clinch Coalition

Virginia Organizing


West Virginia Groups


Coal River Mountain Watch

Gesundheit institute 

Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action

Arvin Hanshaw, President, Nicholas County WV Black Lung Association

Moms Clean Air Force West Virginia Chapter

On The Levels Farmstead 

Revolt Energy 

Rise Up WV

Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia

West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy

West Virginia Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby

West Virginia Council of Churches

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Interfaith Power and Light

West Virginia Rivers Coalition