Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (Energy Communities IWG) Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D. provided remarks this week at the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) 2023 annual conference, Appalachia Rises.
This year, the conference focused on highlighting the importance of resiliency and collaboration in strengthening communities across the Appalachian region. Appalachia Rises brought together partners who work daily to create and expand workforce development, grow outdoor recreation, develop entrepreneurs, and build leadership and community capacity.
“It was an honor to be back in Kentucky among such a committed and passionate group of advocates who are dedicated to building a more vibrant future for our energy communities. With the commitment demonstrated this week, we can bring long-term economic vitality to Appalachia,” said Anderson. “We are dedicated to shaping a future of economic prosperity for energy communities and workers.”
Anderson joined U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin, Senior Advisor to Gov. Beshear Rocky Adkins and others at the opening session on September 11.
Anderson provided an update on the work the Energy Communities IWG is doing in Appalachia, including directing more than $4 billion in federal funding to the region since 2021 and deploying a Rapid Response Team in eastern Kentucky.
Appalachia Rises took place in Ashland, a community in eastern Kentucky’s coal region. Ashland is in Boyd County, which ARC designated as an at-risk county in fiscal year 2024 using its economic classification system. At the event, ARC also announced nearly $14 million to 43 projects through its Investments Supporting Partnerships in Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative. This initiative aims to address Appalachia’s substance use disorder crisis with investments in projects that create or expand services in the recovery ecosystem leading to workforce entry and re-entry.
The Energy Communities IWG is pursuing a whole-of-government approach to create good-paying union jobs, spur economic revitalization, remediate environmental degradation and support energy workers in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities across the country. The working group supports the Administration’s goals of a carbon emission-free electricity sector by 2035 and economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050.