This past Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that a collaboration between the Energy Department and a few other agencies would be building incentives for companies to create infrastructure for renewable power in amazing locations: old-school coal towns.
Investment and production tax credits set up via the recent Inflation Reduction Act, along with noticeable bonuses being handed out by the Treasury Department and the IRS, will seek to push firms to new clean power programs in “energy communities, particularly coal communities.” Officials with the White House have frequently called for a transition shifting away from fossil fuels but have made the claim that their heavy emphasis on clean energy will assist in the replacement of lost jobs for the sector.
“President Biden came to the White House to end years of big words but little action to help energy-producing parts of the country, who for decades saw jobs exported out and products imported in, all while other countries surpassed the United States in critical sectors like infrastructure, clean energy, and semiconductors,” the White House explained via a fact sheet. “The actions announced today will drive new investments in energy communities to support their economic revitalization, strengthen American supply chains, and help ensure coal, oil, and gas workers benefit from the new clean energy economy.”
The Energy Department is slated to allocate $450 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds to offer support for “clean energy demonstration projects” on both former and current mining land from coal communities. Another $16 million will finance research out of the University of North Dakota and West Virginia University in order to build a refinery that could “extract and separate rare earth elements and other critical minerals from coal ash, acid mine drainage, and other mine waste.”
Developers across the United States have chosen to move away from coal production: close to one-fourth of the nation’s coal power capacity is expected to be fully retired by 2029, as explained by data coming from the Energy Information Administration, while companies have not issued any reports of any plans to build new coal facilities as of September 2022. The lowered emphasis on coal production and broader move toward more green energy takes place as a number of nations like India and China rapidly try to expand their overall reliance on fossil fuels and subsequently spike their emissions levels.
Critics claim that the actions coming from the White House to discourage fossil fuel production will only drop the supply of affordable energy and stifle the economy by dropping employment opportunities.