Reimagine Appalachia: A Vision and a Plan for a Sustainable, Prosperous and Equitable Appalachia
We’re excited to share with you a new coalition that WV Rivers is a planning team member of called Reimagine Appalachia.
Reimagine Appalachia is a diverse coalition of labor, policy experts and community leaders who are making sure that no matter what a person looks like or the size of their bank account, everyone who lives in Appalachia can have a good job, is cared for, and can put down roots for the future.
In early August, the Reimagine Appalachia coalition released a policy blueprint that has been endorsed by 62 organizations. The blueprint is based on months of research, outreach and community engagement. It’s an Appalachian document created by and for Appalachian people and it shows federal policymakers the way forward to create a vibrant, thriving region.
We all know the people of Appalachia are hard workers. As Appalachians we have found deep purpose and meaning in powering America with the coal we mined, feeding the nation with food grown on our farms and supplying the lumber to build homes in communities hundreds of miles from our own.
Though for too long, corporations have used our resources for their own profit while damaging our health and environment. With Appalachia’s natural assets, we have all the tools to provide great jobs for our people while doing our part to create a healthier future for our children by addressing the climate crisis.
We know it’s not enough to reduce emissions – to really make a difference, we must pull carbon from the atmosphere to be able to meet the net-zero emissions goals by 2050. Our forested landscapes can capture and store vast amounts of carbon. Federal funding can be used to put people to work in climate-smart forestry. People can go to work restoring wetlands and floodplains – protecting their neighbors from future floods, saving lives and money in the long run.
We can reclaim abandoned mine land for reuse or other community goals – such as new outdoor recreation opportunities that increase tourism. We’re within 500 miles of 60% of the nation’s population. A population that is seeking outdoor spaces as a safer way to recreate and enjoy a vacation in the context of a pandemic.
Public investments in restoration, recreation, and resilience create good-paying jobs more quickly than many other alternatives — 15 to 33 jobs per million invested — because most of the funds go towards labor, rather than materials. Our federal leaders can create a 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps to put our young people to work, restoring our natural places and fixing crumbling recreational infrastructure.
Members of Congress are signaling the time to act is now. The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), recently passed the House, and like the Reimagine Appalachia plan it links economic stimulus, community resilience and climate pollution reduction. It directs large scale public resources to create jobs in natural infrastructure, clean water, and ecosystem restoration.
We call on all of our leaders to embrace the Reimagine Appalachia policy framework to not just help our region restart its economy, but also to increase our strength and resilience as a nation.