Mapping the policy corridors of the coal community transitions in the U.S. West

Authors: Kelli Roemer*, Montana State University
Topics: Energy, Rural Geography
Keywords: Coal transition, energy transition, decarbonization, rural community planning
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Between 2009 and 2025, the U.S. will retire roughly one-fifth of its coal power plant fleet. These retirements pose immediate challenges for the localities and regions that host coal-fired power plants and associated mines. Successfully addressing the social, economic, and environmental legacies at coal facilities is a priority of policy actors in the “just transition” arena (Newell & Mulvaney, 2013). Currently, however, the coal community transition response takes place in a complex and disjointed policy landscape (Haggerty et al., 2018). In the U.S. West, states demonstrate varying stances towards transitions and thus, impacted communities are experiencing varying levels and types of support. Here, a key research need is charting whether various policies constrain or direct community transitions and require the characterization of policy implications on community resilience. Using a community resilience and transition theory framework, this paper compares policy across three U.S. West states to assess variations in policies, programs, and approaches available to transitioning coal communities.

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