Center for Coalfield Justice Issues Statement Hailing United Mine Workers’ Support for Transition to Clean Energy Jobs

Image credit: Kristen Locy

Contact:  Jodi Hirsh, jodi@sequalconsulting.com,  (412) 326-9832‬‬

WASHINGTON, PA — We envision a future where the communities hit hard by the decline of the coal industry have vibrant, resilient, and equitable economies with thriving, local businesses and quality, family-sustaining jobs. This future sees workers and communities on the frontlines of our nation’s energy transition becoming more prosperous through innovative solutions that tackle economic challenges and the climate crisis. And it ensures that low-income communities and communities of color that have been left behind aren’t just included, but help lead the way. We’re thrilled that the United Mine Workers support the necessary transition from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Appalachian communities have been hit hard by the changing coal economy and are facing a profound and urgent crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic and economic decline has only made more difficult. Despite promises from industry and their political cheerleaders, coal jobs in Pennsylvania and Appalachia have been declining for years. To make matters worse, poverty has persisted for decades in many Appalachian counties with mining damage, disproportionately impacting women, people of color, and young people.

Said Veronica Coptis, Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice, “Our local economy and infrastructure are still dependent on coal mining operations, but we are seeing the signs of the big companies bailing on our towns as they have done in so many across the country. The pandemic has drained what little resources were left by shuttering local businesses and putting people living paycheck to paycheck out of work.

“Despite what you may hear, there is overwhelming support in coal communities for cleaning up the messes left behind by industry, increasing access to good union jobs in the renewable energy and service sectors, and looking at communities holistically to also improve our schools and infrastructure. We look forward to continuing to work with frontline communities, local mine workers, politicians, and other leaders across the country to finally change the path of history and deeply invest in these struggling communities across the country, pushing solutions by those most impacted by the problems.”



  • Veronica Coptis joined the CCJ staff in March 2013 as a Community Organizer and is now serving as the Executive Director. She grew up in western Greene County near the Bailey Mine Complex and currently lives in the eastern part of the county. Before joining the CCJ staff, Veronica served on the Board of Directors for CCJ and organized with Mountain Watershed Association. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from West Virginia University. She enjoys hiking and geocaching at Ryerson State Park and other areas around Greene County with her husband and daughters. Read more about Veronica in a New Yorker Magazine profile at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/03/the-future-of-coal-country.

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