The collapse of the coal industry is devastating small communities across the Western United States, but reclaiming these mined lands quickly could create up to 6,081 full-time jobs per year in the critical two to three year period after mine closure according to our new report, Coal Mine Cleanup Works. The report estimates potential reclamation job creation for the Intermountain West (Colorado, Montana, New Mexico North Dakota, and Wyoming, as well as Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation lands in Arizona and New Mexico) and provides recommendations for decision-makers to ensure cleanup is fully funded and employs the local workforce.
These findings offer a rare bright light of opportunity for coal communities that are facing massive lay-offs and lost revenue as the coal industry crumbles. Reclamation is one of the few immediately available job opportunities for local workers after a mine shuts down, and the report finds that these jobs are ideally suited for current or former miners.
Coal Mine Cleanup Works key findings include:
- Surface coal mine reclamation could create up to 6,081 full-time equivalent jobs per year in the critical two to three year period after mine closure. These potential yearly jobs represent approximately 70% of the current surface mining workforce in the region.
- Reclamation is one of the few immediately available job opportunities for local workers after a mine shut down, and the report finds that these jobs are ideally suited for current or former miners.
- An important component of a just economic transition is having some immediate job creation solutions, like cleanup jobs, paired with longer-term job solutions.
- Delayed and underfunded reclamation are the biggest hurdles to getting laid-off miners back on the job doing cleanup work.
An expanded methodology section for the report is available here.