Eastern Kentuckians encouraged by White House’s proposed investment for economic transition in Central Appalachia | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
Release Date: 
Monday, February 2, 2015
Press Contact: 
Elizabeth Sanders
KFTC Executive Committee member

Eastern Kentuckians encouraged by White House’s proposed investment for economic transition in Central Appalachia

Additional Contact

Carl Shoupe

Other Statements

Appalachian Citizens Law Center

MACED: Mountain Association for Community Economic Development

Eastern Kentuckians working for a just transition to a more sustainable economy were pleased to hear this morning’s announcement that President Obama’s federal budget proposal includes increased funding that would be available for Central Appalachian transition.

“This is great news. A federal investment like this can be a big part of a just transition here in the mountains,” said Elizabeth Sanders of Letcher County who is a member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth’s board. “It can also be a great help to the work that is already happening here on the ground to create the new, next economy.”

The president’s proposal includes $1 billion over the next five years in accelerated payouts from the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund. These payouts would focus on both mine reclamation and opportunities in economic revitalization.

In addition, the proposal would boost workforce development and job retraining programs with an additional $25 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and $5 million for the EPA’s work to clean up brownfield areas. There are also provisions to shore up health care benefits for retired miners.

“This announcement is encouraging to our efforts to rebuild our economy,” said Harlan County retired coal miner and KFTC board member Carl Shoupe. “We have been working hard to improve our economy here in eastern Kentucky. If and when these funds move forward, we would just ask that they’re rolled out in a way that includes an open public process and transparency in deciding where the money is going.”

Members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) have been working for the past few years to broaden and deepen the conversation around Appalachian transition and building a strong, diverse, local economy in the mountains. The organization believes it’s essential that the transition to a new economy is a just transition – one that celebrates the culture and invests in communities and workers that depended on the old economy.

KFTC believes that a just transition is possible and that such a transition must:

  • improve the quality of life for people and communities affected by economic disruption, environmental damage and inequality
  • foster inclusion, participation and collaboration
  • generate good, stable, meaningful jobs and broad access to opportunities and benefits
  • promote innovation, self-reliance, and broadly held local wealth
  • protect and restore public health and our environment
  • respect the past while also strengthening communities and culture
  • consider the effects of decisions on future generations

While the president’s proposal would not provide all the solutions for a just transition, it would provide a needed boost for the next economy.

“This opens a huge opportunity for the upcoming SOAR Summit to convene a conversation among eastern Kentuckians as to how these federal dollars can bolster and support our efforts to build a bright future in Central Appalachia,” said Sanders.