The largest coal miner union in the country suggested it would be willing to accept a transition to renewable energy in exchange for jobs in the growing green energy sector, The New York Times reports.
“There needs to be a tremendous investment here,” Cecil E. Roberts, the president of the United Mine Workers of America, told the outlet. “We always end up dealing with climate change, closing down coal mines. We never get to the second piece of it.”
Roberts will present a plan alongside West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin calling for tax credits and subsidies to create new solar and wind turbine jobs and to create additional jobs by funding the reclamation of abandoned coal mines that pose health risks.
Along with calling for investments that would spur job creation in Appalachia, the union is also calling for additional funding for research on carbon capture and storage technology.
This would allow coal plants to store their carbon dioxide under the ground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
The plan also calls for policies that would allow coal plants to remain open if they commit to switching to capture and storage technology.
The union is also calling on Congress to support miners who lost work by replacing their wages, health insurance, and pensions.
Some measures already backed by Biden:
Some of the proposals in the plan are already part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal, including research for carbon capture and mine reclamation.
“Change is coming, whether we seek it or not,” the union plan says, adding that coal industry employment has fallen from 92,000 to 44,000 over the last decade.
The union vowed to oppose any climate legislation that did not provide aid for miners.
“We’re on the side of job creation, of a future for our people,” Roberts said. “If that isn’t part of the conversation at the end of the day, we’ll be hard pressed to be supportive.”