Revitalizing our Coal Counties
Families in Virginia’s coalfields have suffered an acute loss of jobs over the past few years, compounding a long-term trend of decline in the coal industry. I’ll work to promote the steel industry in the US so that markets for metallurgical coal remain strong and grow. At the same time, we’re long past due for a major, long-term, sustained investment in the coalfields of southwest Virginia and neighboring states, an investment to build a much more diversified economy that utilizes our natural resources sustainably.
Some have called this a “Marshall Plan” for Appalachia. Whatever we might call it, this should include:
- Immediate, substantial public and private investment to expand local businesses and manufacturers in order to create thousands of new jobs in the coalfields
- Supporting the development of innovative manufacturing and new products and services that meet emerging markets and real needs, in energy efficiency, food production, health, renewable energy and more
- Designing an Appalachian Homestead Act that puts land back into the hands of local farmers, businesses and others, increasing productivity and resilience
- Working with UVA Wise, community colleges and others to build on and expand miners’ skills and knowledge to enable them to work in emerging new industries
- Passage of the RECLAIM Act to simultaneously restore degraded strip mine land and create farms, businesses and jobs
- Forging partnerships with conservation and environmental groups to create good livelihoods and get beyond the ‘war on coal’.