The Obama administration on Thursday offered nearly $66 million to boost communities battered by the coal industry’s downturn and a string of recent mining bankruptcies.
The funds are part of the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce Development and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, a federal program to support coal-reliant communities in states like Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky where mines are shuttering and coal-fired power plants are closing due to rocky market conditions and tougher environmental regulations.
The Obama administration last year awarded around $14.5 million in POWER grants to a dozen states. In Ohio, which received $2 million, one of the biggest slices, the money is helping pay for retraining and education programs in high-demand industries, namely trucking.
“Many communities across Appalachia — from coal mines to Main Streets — are being impacted as the world changes the way it produces and consumes electricity,” Earl Gohl, who chairs the federal Appalachian Regional Commission, said in a statement.
The commission announced the funding Thursday along with the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
The grant arrives a day after Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal producer, signaled it might have to seek bankruptcy protection. The St. Louis miner flagged the bankruptcy risk in a regulatory filing Wednesday after disclosing that it skipped a $71.1 million interest payment on its senior notes due earlier this week.
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