October 16, 2014

More on the southern coalfields

Lots of people even beyond WV are starting to track the situation in the southern coalfields, where mining jobs have been dramatically declining. Something about this piece by environmental writer David Roberts in Grist rubbed me the wrong way, at least a little.

It looks like I'm not the only one. Two people I think highly of responded at some length, Ken Ward at Coal Tattoo and WV native Jeremy Richardson with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

On a more positive note, WV Senate President Jeff Kessler announced the formation of a 13 member senate task force on the southern coalfields going by the acronym SCORE (Southern Coalfields Organizing and Revitalizing the Economy), which will hold listening sessions with coalfield residents and develop legislative proposals to assist the region. SCORE is modeled in part on Kentucky's SOAR (Save Our Appalachian Region) program.

Some ideas the group will explore include
Increase funding for tourism advertising and development.
Education and workforce development and retraining initiatives.
Dedicating monies for viable redevelopment projects.
Agribusiness and rural development opportunities.
Increase Broadband access.
Expanding and supporting intermodal transportation.
          Explore development of coalbed methane reserves.
Support clean coal research and development.
Kessler and his fellow senators deserve a lot of credit for taking this on. You can find more about SCORE here and here.