NYSAC Joins Call with the White House on POWER+ Plan and the State of Appalachian Economy
On March 16, 2016, NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario, along with many elected officials and county representatives from the Appalachian Region, participated in a conference call with the White House for a briefing on President Obama's proposed POWER Plus (POWER+) Plan. Included in the FY2016 Budget, the President aims to invest economic development funds in communities reliant on the declining coal industry. Coal mining, processing, and use in energy production has historically been one of the main staples of the Appalachian economy and the plan seeks to ensure that communities, workers, and their families are not left behind moving forward in our changing energy landscape.
During the call, Senior Economic Policy Advisor to the White House Jason Walsh discussed a four-pillared approach to the proposal. Mr. Walsh detailed the plan's support for economic diversification and job creation with over $55 million implemented across a number of federal programs. The POWER+ Plan will provide legislative reforms to strengthen the health and pension plans for over 100,000 retired coal miners and their families. New development opportunities and jobs in abandoned mine land (AML) communities will address the continuing legacy of AMLs on the health, safety, environment, and economic development potential of the communities. The final pillar establishes the deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technologies through new tax incentives that will complement each other in driving improvements in green technology.
The Appalachian region encompasses an estimated 205,000-square-mile area, from northern Mississippi, along the Appalachian Mountains, to southern New York. In New York's Southern Tier, 14 counties comprise the northernmost region of Appalachia: Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Steuben, Schuyler, Chemung, Tompkins, Tioga, Cortland, Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Otsego, and Schoharie. There are only three active power stations generated by coal in NYS, one of which, the Cayuga Power Station in Tompkins County, being in Appalachia. The impact of the shifting energy landscape in New York can already be felt through layoffs and plant shutdowns, the Dunkirk Generating Station, shut down in December, being the most recent. President Obama's POWER+ Plan should be supported by New York State legislators in order to make sure our communities are provided for and that workers and their families can live healthy and fruitful lives.