June 2, 2023

EDA Fuels the Coal & Energy Communities that Power American Growth

Throughout its more than 50-year history, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has invested in coal and energy communities across the United States through a variety of funding opportunities. One of EDA’s seven Investment Priorities, Recovery & Resilience, is one way in which EDA remains focused on communities that are looking to recover from economic shocks, such as power plant closures or the decline of a major industry in the region, and to build resilient and diverse economies. 

Since FY17, EDA has awarded  Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) funds on a competitive basis to assist communities impacted by the declining use of coal. ACC funds can be used to implement programs and projects that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities. EDA also invests in communities that have been significantly impacted by the closures of nuclear power plants throughout the country through the Nuclear Closure Communities (NCC) Initiative. NCC projects and activities are funded under EDA’s Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance (PWEAA) and Research and National Technical Assistance (RNTA) programs. 

With an appropriation of $3 billion under the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, EDA was able to dramatically increase the amount of program resources available for coal transition communities. EDA allocated $300 million in ARPA funds to implement the Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities as they recover from the pandemic, develop resilient economies, and create good paying-jobs and opportunities. Of this amount, $100 million was made available under EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge, and the remaining $200 million was made available under EDA’s EAA Program. In 2022, EDA met and exceeded the Coal Communities Commitment, ultimately awarding just over $550 million in funding to coal communities across its six ARPA programs. To learn more you can view the Coal Communities Fact Sheet (PDF). 

The Coal Communities Commitment both reflected and supported President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (Executive Order 14008, January 27, 2021), which created the Interagency Working Group on Coal & Power Plant Communities & Economic Revitalization (Energy Communities IWG) to leverage federal resources to revitalize the economies of energy communities throughout the country. 

EDA supports energy communities in other ways as well. In November 2022, EDA awarded a $2.6 million grant to the National Association of Counties (NACo) Research Foundation to administer the Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities (BRECC) initiative. Through four core activities – the BRECC National Network, the Coal Communities Commitment Coalition, the Coal Communities Action Challenge, and a National Storytelling Campaign – BRECC serves as a Community of Practice for coal community leaders around the country who are seeking to revitalize and diversify their economies. 

In partnership with EDA, the Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative (NDC), NADO Research Foundation (NADO RF), the Center on Creative Land Recycling, and  Smart Growth America introduced the Technical Assistance for Nuclear Communities (TANC) program, which assists communities that have experienced a nuclear power plant closure event and the subsequent adverse socioeconomic impacts. Through the program, the TANC team engages with stakeholders in nuclear closure communities to evaluate their needs, evaluate the region’s available assets that can be leveraged for economic growth, connect communities to funding opportunities, provide support for redevelopment efforts, and more. 

Whether it’s providing critical investments in infrastructure, workforce development, strategic planning, or other priority projects and activities, EDA has funding opportunities to meet the needs of coal and energy economies across the United States. If you would like to stay up-to-date with EDA news and resources, as well as other federal partners, you can subscribe to a variety of EDA newsletters here. If your community is looking for funding opportunities, please visit the Funding Overview page on EDA’s website for more resources and information on eligibility and how to apply.