The Obama Idea to Save Coal Country
As part of the 2016 budget, the Obama White House created something called the POWER Plus plan specifically to help Appalachian communities that were getting left behind because of the rapidly changing energy market. The acronym stands for Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization, and it proposed a suite of projects including to convert $1 billion from the Abandoned Mine Lands reserve—a pot of money that had been growing since the Carter administration—funding for projects to clean up abandoned mine lands, mostly underground, that are linked to local economic development strategies. For Kentucky alone, that would mean $20 million a year for five years. The money would likely have gone to promote other businesses sectors like manufacturing and tourism and to retrain miners for new jobs like writing computer code.
This potential windfall was met with disinterest, if not skepticism, in the Republican-controlled Congress.