The Appalachian Climate Technology Coalition (“ACT Now Coalition”) of West Virginia has recently been awarded nearly $63 million dollars after being selected as one of the winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. This challenge, ran by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce, was funded by the American Rescue Plan to “build new economic development approaches and family-wage jobs in targeted regions.” To obtain a grant, the EDA “challenged communities to identify a set of interconnected investments that, together, could transform their local economy, expand economic opportunity and competitiveness, and create thousands of good jobs.” Of 529 applicants, just twenty-one were granted funding.
The ACT Now Coalition, led by Coalfield Development Corporation, is supported by many of West Virginia's largest cities and universities, as well as private businesses and non-profits. The coalition is committed to diversifying the region’s economy and fostering a transition to a low-carbon future. It aims at revitalizing the economy of the Coalfield Region— an area the U.S. Intergovernmental Council on Energy Communities calls “the most economically distressed and coal-impacted area in America.” More specifically, ACT Now supports the ‘Abandoned Mines to Sustainable Lands’ project, which plans to boost the “under-achieving pace of abandoned mine reclamation in West Virginia and Appalachia with new approaches to sustainable reuse of these lands.” One such reuse proposed is the repurposing of abandoned mines for renewable energy generation and storage. The funding from the EDA marks a tremendous investment in the region and will help expand opportunities for communities to grow.