Friday, November 13, 2015

Hillary Clinton unveils $30B plan to revitalize coal communities hurt by shift to cleaner energy

Hillary Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday released a $30 billion plan to revitalize the local economies of coal dependent communities that will be hit hard by the the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan rules. Clinton, who said in a statement that most federal revitalization projects are underfunded, plans to establish a Coal Communities Challenge Fund that awards new competitive grants for: entrepreneurship and small business development; education and training; health and wellness; arts and culture; and housing.

Clinton also said she will partner with local entrepreneurs, community leaders, foundations and labor groups to make federal investments to help people find good jobs locally that don't require them to move. Her plan is to: build infrastructure for the 21st century; repurpose mine lands and power plant sites; expand broadband access; expand clean energy on federal lands and from existing dams; increase public investment in research and development; and attract private investment through an improved New Markets Tax Credit and zero capital gains taxes.

"In the 2008 Democratic primary race, Clinton had strong support among working-class white voters and overwhelmingly won coal-dependent states such as West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania," Laura Meckler and Amy Harder report for The Wall Street Journal. "But backing for her in Appalachia could be tested this year by her strong push for clean energy."

As part of her plan, Clinton said she "would fight coal companies that she says use bankruptcy proceedings to shirk health-care and pension commitments to retirees and overhaul the troubled black-lung benefit program so it properly awards benefits due," Meckler and Harder write. She "said she would use certain federal lands for clean-energy projects such as wind generation, to make up for the loss of coal mining there" and said "she would increase the amount of federal research and development money going toward technology the industry dubs 'clean coal,' which captures and stores carbon dioxide from coal instead of emitting it into the atmosphere."

UPDATE, Nov. 17: The Lexington Herald-Leader wasn't excited about Clinton's plan to spend $11 billion to complete the Appalachian Development Highway System, but the Kentucky paper said, "Just having a leading presidential contender talking about the need for investing in the coalfields is a welcome addition to the national debate."

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