Glynis Board Published

ARC: 'Billions' Coming To Coal Communities From Feds

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Massive economic opportunities are available for rural energy communities according to Gayle Manchin, the co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

Manchin was in Wheeling Wednesday at Northern Community College and met with state and federal leaders representing a variety of government agencies. She and other panelists outlined approximately $200 billion of what was called a “once-in-a-generation investment” targeted at coal-impacted communities.

Increases in funding are anticipated for everything from water and sewage projects, brownfield cleanup, and mineland reclamation, to small business support and regionally collaborative economic development.

“What I find exciting about being here today is that it’s really all about how we can all work together and to see a very strong group from Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania,” Manchin said. She pointed out that the Appalachian region includes 26 million people and 423 counties — rivaling California and Texas.

Manchin said she applauded President Joe Biden’s efforts to infuse Appalachia with financial assistance to help the region transition from coal-dependent to a more diversified economy. Manchin was joined by Brian Anderson, executive director of the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.

“All of the federal agencies are here to make sure we’re working hand-in-hand with local communities,” Anderson said. He added that the goal is to make sure communities that have been relied upon for national energy independence and security are not left behind as energy trends shift to renewable sources.

Anderson also directs the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. He expects this funding to be allocated through competitive grant programs over the next five years.

Some of the grant opportunities discussed include those provided through: