Crafting Climate Solutions in Coal Country: Lessons from the Work of the Energy Communities Interagency Working Group (IWG) in Wyoming

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2024-05-03

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Current federal efforts to support coal dependent “energy communities” will be insufficient to ensure their well-being through clean energy transition. Energy Community incentives and frameworks that treat coal communities as a monolith fail to account for distinct local needs between coal communities in different regions. The story of the coal producing state of Wyoming’s engagement with federal funding opportunities designed to support coal communities in transition demonstrates the shortcomings of current federal policy frameworks to support coal communities. While there has been alignment between Wyoming and federal policy goals around clean energy transition with support for carbon capture, utilization, and storage demonstration projects (CCUS), the state has largely failed to receive funding from competitive grant programs aimed at supporting diversified economic development within coal communities, even though Wyoming is the highest producing coal area in the country. All that said, the work of the Energy Communities Interagency Working Group and their pilot Rapid Response Team (RRT)in Wyoming offers lessons that could be applied to federal programs aiming to support a just transition for coal communities in the US. The successes of the RRT demonstrate how a focus on place-based community engagement, emphasis on relationship building and building on the ground capacity to engage with federal programs, and flexibility in program design can create the conditions that lead to policy progress on climate even in unlikely places like Wyoming communities whose economies, culture, and politics have been dominated by fossil fuels for decades.

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Hitchcock, Ian (2024). Crafting Climate Solutions in Coal Country: Lessons from the Work of the Energy Communities Interagency Working Group (IWG) in Wyoming. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/30712.


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