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Rebuilding the Appalachian economy: Coalfield Development, USA

Categories: Case study, Location: United States, Date: September, 2020

General publications24 September 2021
Rebuilding the Appalachian economy: Coalfield Development, USA - Case study

Like in many European coal regions, energy generation from coal displays a clear downward trend in the US. According to mechanisation processes and the application of new (and controversial) drilling techniques for natural gas, coal’s share of American electricity production fell from about 50% in 2006 to just over a third in 2015. Employment in mining in the Appalachian region (a stretch composed of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania) fell from 140,000 workers in the 1940s to about 16,000 people today. Some parts of the region have grappled with poverty for decades, a struggle compounded not only by unemployment, but also by an opioid epidemic and a high incarceration rate. As coal companies abandoned the coal mines and much of the state’s infrastructure, some communities lack basic needs. Roads and housing are often decayed, and functioning water and sewer systems are in short supply. Recognizing the deep generational challenges that the mining-shaped Appalachian region faces, the Coalfield Development Corporation, founded in 2010, aims at creating jobs for chronically unemployed residents, following a relationship-based, holistic approach of personal development training, formal education and direct employment. 

Rebuilding the Appalachian economy: Coalfield Development, USA - Case study
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