The IWG was established by Executive Order 14008, Section 218, on Jan. 27 to ensure that the shift to a clean-energy economy creates good-paying union jobs, spurs economic revitalization, remediates environmental degradation and supports energy workers in coal, oil-and-gas and power-plant communities across the country.
“It’s not time for small measures,” Biden said when announcing the order. “We have to be bold. So let me be clear: That includes helping revitalize the economies of coal, oil, gas and power-plant communities. We have to start by creating new, good-paying jobs, capping abandoned wells, reclaiming mines, turning old brownfield sites into new hubs of economic growth. We are going to work with mayors, governors and tribal leaders, and business leaders who are stepping up, and the young people who are organizing and leading the way.”
The 11 federal agencies making up the IWG are the Department of Treasury, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services;
Department of Transportation, Department of Ener gy, the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office o Manage and Budget. Domestic Policy Council and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
“We are gleaning out of all 11 agencies how they can best support communities around the country,” Anderson said. “We’re going have a continuous cadence of announcements from agencies.”
Within 60 days of Biden’s order, the IWG released an initial report of findings and suggestions to catalyze economic development in traditional energy communities, which included plans for $109.5 million in funding for projects directly supporting job creation.
The report identified nearly $38 billion in existing federal funding that could be accessed by energy communities for infrastructure, environmental remediation, union job creation, and community revitalization efforts.
The funding includes the over $260 million in existing resources already mobilized by the Department of the Interior to support abandoned mine land reclamation, predominantly in Appalachia.
“So that we continue to do capacity building, as well as drawing out the investments and continuing some of the analyses on these energy communities and how they could potentially be dramatically effected during an energy transition,” he said.
Areas in West Virginia identified by the initial report include the “Southern West Virginia non-metropolitan area,” the Wheeling area, the “Northern West Virginia non-metropolitan area,” Beckley and Charleston, which includes more than 40 of the state’s 55 counties.
“We’re continuing a lot of the on-the-ground work with communities to understand what their vision of the future is and how we can identify the resources across the agencies,” he said.
Additional reports from the IWG will be released in the future, Anderson said.
“There are reports we’ll have coming out at the (one) year point and some other reports that come out in four different work streams over the course of time,” he said.
The four “work streams” are investment, stakeholder/community engagement, policy and integration, Anderson said.
Senior Staff Writer Charles Young can be reached at 304-626-1447 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Read More: Interagency Working Group executive director says ‘big announcement’ coming soon | WV News