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Biden offers $450m for clean energy projects at coal mines


Biden earmarks $450m for clean energy projects at coal mines

The Biden administration is channeling hundreds of millions of dollars to turning coal communities into clean energy hubs. (Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore | Flickr Commons License CC BY-SA 2.0.)

The United States government announced on Tuesday it had set aside $450 million to advance clean energy projects on current and former mine sites, given special attention to those that can provide new economic opportunities for coal communities.

The Department of Energy will also provide $16 million to the University of North Dakota and West Virginia University to complete design studies for a domestic refinery that will extract rare earth and other critical minerals from coal ash, acid mine drainage and other mine waste, the White House said.


After taking office in January 2021, President Joe Biden created an interagency working group focused on revitalizing coal-power communities through federal investments. 

Later that year, the group selected 25 priority areas ranging from West Virginia to Wyoming to focus on development.

“There are around 17,750 mine land sites across 1.5 million acres in the US which expose local populations to harmful pollutants and contaminate the air, land, and water quality in the surrounding areas,” the White House said.

“Repurposing this extensive area of land for clean energy projects is estimated to generate up to 90 GW of clean energy—enough to power nearly 30 million American homes.”

The White House also said it will let developers of clean energy projects to take advantage of billions of dollars in new bonuses being offered. These will be in addition to investment and production tax credits available through the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act

The bonuses will “incentivize more clean energy investment in energy communities, particularly coal communities,” that have been hurt by a decade-plus decline in the country’s coal sector, the government said.

As part of the announcement, the Biden Administration noted it would put 11 federal agencies to jointly work on getting new resources into energy communities like former coal mining towns.

“We’re pleased to see the Biden administration unlocking billions in additional incentives to drive family-sustaining jobs and bring new economic opportunity to communities sacrificed by the fossil fuel industry,” Sierra Club executive director, Ben Jealous, said in a separate statement.

The news comes on the heels of the latest Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) monthly report showing that electricity generation from renewables surpassed coal in the US for the first time last year. Renewables also trumped nuclear energy in 2022.

Biden has set a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieve a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.