Fighting for Justice in the Coalfields

Federal economic development grants announced for eastern Kentucky highlights the potential of the yet-to-be passed POWER+ Plan

Officials announced $6 million of federal funding for economic development in eastern Kentucky as part of the Power Initiative. The eastern Kentucky grants are part of $15 million in grants announced this week represent the growing effort to diversify and strengthen the economies of communities reeling from the recent decline of the coal industry. Central Appalachia continues to face layoffs in the coal industry, and these grants will be a big help to many communities looking to retrain workers and create jobs in new sectors. The POWER Initiative grants highlight the innovative and intersectional solutions– around high tech applications, substance abuse, broadband, local foods, and more– that citizens and groups in coalfield communities are developing as they transition into a new Appalachian economy.

Check out the White House’s Fact Sheet on the grant announcement.

While these POWER Initiative announcements are great news and represent the growing network of strong economic diversification efforts in Appalachia, these grants will only address a small fraction of the economic struggles facing many coal communities. The next step is for Congress to pass the much more ambitious POWER+ Plan, a $10 billion proposal that would assist struggling coal communities in growing and diversifying their economies. The Plan would help create immediate jobs reclaiming abandoned mines and would empower communities to develop long-term job-creating projects on reclaimed mines. The POWER Initiative grants announced today don’t include the potential funding for these mine reclamation projects because disbursing the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funding requires Congressional action.

The set of POWER Initiative grants announced today demonstrate that coalfield communities are ready to take advantage of the POWER+ Plan. They just need the go ahead from Congress.

Local officials in Central Appalachia think the POWER+ Plan could be a huge opportunity for their communities and they’ve demonstrated as much by passing 23 resolutions to date in support of the POWER+ Plan across all four Central Appalachian states.

The updated list of localities that have unanimously passed resolutions in support of the POWER+ Plan:


  • Pike County
  • Bell County
  • Perry County
  • Floyd County
  • Harlan County
  • Letcher County
  • City of Whitesburg
  • City of Vicco
  • City of Evarts
  • City of Benham
  • Benham Power Board


  • Wise County
  • City of Norton
  • Town of Wise
  • Town of Appalachia
  • Town of Dungannon
  • Town of Cleveland
  • Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (representing Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell Counties)


  • Campbell County

West Virginia

  • Lincoln County
  • Fayette County
  • Wyoming County
  • City of Morgantown
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