A New Day for the Coalfields


The United States has 50,000 coal miners and 150,000 workers in oil and gas extraction. Their jobs come and go (see graph), depending on the economy, automation, energy prices and the growth of renewable energy. They bear the brunt of the country's energy cycles. The areas where they live often have few other jobs. They deserve support when they're laid off, temporarily or permanently.

A printable paper, A New Day for the Coalfields, estimates that support for coal workers and communities when they lose jobs will cost about $25 billion over 10 years, or less than 1% of likely revenue from carbon pricing. Administration can be done by existing Workforce Investment Boards or other experienced groups.

$12 Billion for Workers over 10 Years, while Mines Are Closing

and $13 Billion for Coal Communities over 10 Years

Source of data: A New Day for the Coalfields

Panel discussion June 2019 in Washington DC with speakers from West Virginia and Brookings Institution (DC).

Next Steps:

People can ask their members of Congress to adopt A New Day for the Coalfields, as described on this page, Here is a handout for meetings.

This is a draft plan to start discussions, written by people in West Virginia and Indiana. Please send ideas and reactions. Email:















Current Laws

Proposed Bills and Current Laws

(Click for detailed comparison of Deutch, Curbelo and Whitehouse)

Deutch +40 cosponsors and Coons+1

McKinley +1

Delaney +2

Curbelo +1

Larson +20

Whitehouse +1 and Blumenauer +1

Van Hollen and Beyer +36

Sanders +2

McConnell +1 and Rogers +40 and Manchin +5 (RECLAIM)

Sewell +2

Trade Adjust-ment Assis-tance (TAA)

Work­force Innova­tion & Opportu­nity Act (WIOA)

Bill numbers in 2019













Bill numbers in 2018

S3791+ HR7173





S1639+ HR3420

S2352+ HR4889

S2398 (2015)

S728+ S738+ HR1731


19USC 12-II-2

29USC 3174 + 3225

Funded by carbon fee per ton, if any

$15 + $10 /yr fossil CO2e as if burnt, except no fee on well leaks[1]


$30 +4%/yr CO2e

$24 +2%/yr over CPI fossil CO2e as if burnt

$49 +2%/year over CPI CO2

$49 +2%/year over CPI CO2 as if burnt

Auction price fossil CO2 as if burnt






Revenue projected in first 10 years

$3 trillion, REMI[2]



$1 trillion, Columbia[3]

$2 trillion, EMF[4]








Set aside for energy workers


$500 million /year

2% for 10 years


unknown part of $5 billion /year

unknown part of $10 billion /year


$3 billion /year

$200 million /year

none (savings account)



Health benefits













Early retirement


























Relocation expenses













Extended unemployment benefits


























Pay Supplement if they take another job













Business start-up incubator and seed money













Commuting expenses if a worker needs to travel far, but not move













Job search costs and advice













Payments to local governments













House links













Senate links









s728 + s738




Fossil fuel workers eligible no matter what made their job disappear?














Past Experience: Worker Assistance in 1980s Industrial Changes


Help given in the 1980s was only partly effective. The people who moved did better, but few were willing to move.

Process and Implementation Issues in the Design and Conduct of Programs to Aid The Reemployment and Dislocated Workers

Mathematica 1984. They stress good training and case management; Workforce Investment Boards, which would administer NewDay, have evaluations to try to ensure good training and case management.


"SUMMARY The Department of Labor awarded grants to organizations in six areas to implement one-year demonstration programs during the 1983 federal fiscal year aimed at assisting the readjustment of dislocated workers. These areas were Alameda County, CA; Buffalo, NY; Lehigh Valley, PA; Mid-Willamette Valley, OR; Milwaukee, WI; and Yakima, WA. This report addresses issues pertaining to the operational feasibility and programmatic outcomes of alternative replicable approaches for providing employment-related services to dislocated workers. Among the findings and recommendations presented in the report are the following:

(1) programs should target their services toward workers in declining industries and not necessarily limit their services to workers from specific plants;

(2) the services offered should include job-search assistance, job development, and retraining;

(3) training areas, providers, and recipients must be selected with great care to ensure that the trainees have the ability and aptitude to complete training, that the training is competently delivered at reasonable cost, and that employment opportunities are available for completers;

(4) a case management approach to service delivery tends to improve performance;

(5) the average costs per participant of providing a comprehensive set of job-search-assistance services was about $700, on-the-job training was about $1,400, and classroom training was about $2,000; and finally

(6) placement rates ranged from 30 to 80 percent in the demonstration sites."

Displaced workers of 1979-83: how well have they fared?

in 1985-Monthly Labor Review has overall outcomes, and summarizes two local studies. They say this about moving:

"Moving to another area . Only a small minority of the 5 .1 million displaced workers (680,000) moved to a different city or county to look for work or to take a different job. However, of those who did move, a higher proportion were reemployed in January 1984-almost 3 in 4, in contrast to 3 in 5 of the nonmovers. (See table 7.) Men were more likely to move than women, and of the male movers, proportionately more were reemployed (77 percent) than was the case for their women counterparts (60 percent) . Relatively few older workers relocated-only 6 percent among those 55 and over. However, even among them, about three fifths of those who moved were working again, a substantially higher proportion than for nonmovers."

They summarize local studies: 

"special case studies evaluating the effectiveness of Department of Labor programs for displaced workers, particularly displaced auto and steel workers, are another valuable source of information on this topic. In order to obtain information on the effectiveness of various types of assistance which might be provided to displaced workers, the Department of Labor funded a series of pilot projects in 1980-83 . One project, the Downriver Community Conference Economic Readjustment Program, served laid-off automotive workers from the Detroit metropolitan area .' Among the findings from this demonstration study are the following:

1 . The displaced workers were predominantly men, aged 25 to 44, and married. Most had graduated from high school ; however, when tested in the program, one-fifth scored below a sixth grade literacy level. They had, on average, worked more than 10 years on the lost job-and they had earned about $10 an hour.

2. Depending upon the particular plant from which they had been laid off, the workers were found to have received either unemployment insurance benefits, or unemployment insurance coupled with company-funded supplemental unemployment benefits, or, in some cases, both of these benefits as well as trade adjustment assistance, which was paid to those whose jobs were deemed to have been lost because of imports. Therefore, some of the workers had their prelayoff earnings almost entirely replaced by benefits, at least for a time .

3 . Although resources were made available to the workers for job search and relocation outside their area, only 8 percent of the program enrollees relocated. About 20 percent of those who relocated subsequently returned .

4 . Two years after the job loss, only about 50 percent of the workers in the program had found another job. The reemployment rate declined the longer the workers remained in the program, and this reflected in part the worsening labor market conditions in the Detroit area during that particular period.

5. On average, the earnings of participants who became reemployed were more than 30 percent below their prelayoff earnings .

"The Department of Labor had also funded a pilot program in Buffalo, New York (among other sites), the aim of which was to assist displaced workers, largely from auto and steel jobs . In this demonstration, it was found that the reemployed workers were placed in jobs paying a mean wage of about $6.50 an hour, a decline from a mean pre-layoff hourly wage of more than $10 an hour. The program participants were primarily men, between their mid-20's and mid-40's, most with a high school education. Nearly 70 percent of the participants were reemployed at the time of the project's termination, with the younger workers being slightly more likely to be placed in jobs than were the others .

"Some additional data on displaced workers are available from a sample of 379 workers from a population of about 11,000 workers on indefinite layoff from a major automobile manufacturer in April 1983 .11 The survey, which was funded by the Department of Commerce, was conducted by the University of Michigan from November 1983 to January 1984. Among the findings are the following:

" Auto workers who were recalled to jobs with their previous employer reported a mean hourly wage of $12.26, with a weekly gross pay of $490.42. In contrast, the other reemployed workers cited a mean hourly wage of $7.42 and an average weekly gross pay of $314.70 .

" Of the 379 respondents, 30 percent had been recalled to their old jobs at the time of the survey, 25 percent were employed elsewhere, about 35 percent were looking for work, and 10 percent were no longer in the labor force. Compensation payments (for example, unemployment insurance and trade adjustment assistance benefits) had covered, on average, about 30 percent of the displaced workers' income loss since they had been laid off. The proportion of lost income offset by such benefits was lower the longer the layoff period, dropping from about 55 percent for workers laid off less than 1 year to about 13 percent for those laid off more than 2 years.

" Workers with more than 10 years' seniority at their old jobs had received benefits that replaced larger proportions of their lost wages . However, these workers also reported relatively lower earnings when they were reemployed"

Other Sites Discussing the Coal Transition: Supports training, finding and creating jobs, including restoring and reusing site, community development and signed agreements. ILO guidelines call for investment, incentives, job creation, job upgrading, poverty eradication, safety nets, training, collaboration, energy efficiency and resource efficiency to support more jobs; greener products and services in agriculture, construction, recycling and tourism; help people with price rises; stable government policy to allow adjustment Wyoming 2018 laws proposed to support: commercial air service, job training, school computer courses, high-speed internet, business incubators and support, especially block chain, and marketing Wyoming products abroad, especially farm products. April 2016 webinar resulted in a brief report which voices support for" Appalachian Regional Commission supports business development, education and infrastructure Focuses on contaminated sites, clean production and sustainable economies. Stories and ideas to promote just transition. No specific proposals. Detailed history from 1970s to early 2016. Makes grants to local groups to foster training, new businesses and markets

Local Groups: in eastern Kentucky: Loans and training for small businesses, energy efficiency, renewable energy, economic development (e.g. AirBnB training to encourage tourism) on borders of KY, OH, TN, VA, WV, supports agriculture in WV offers training and business development


Principles Proposed by Three Groups

·       Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing Call for broad, equal, bottom-up participation.

·       Climate Justice Alliance Just Transition Principles Call for federal money, distributed energy, public transit, local food, zero waste, community land rights, peace, restoring ecosystems, local control of the economy. Opposes markets and market approaches to carbon.

·       Indigenous Principles of Just Transition Call for "just pathways" for people to change jobs and leave poverty, federal money, rights for ecosystems and for indigenous communities in their ancestral lands, spirituality, local food, zero waste, and less consumption. Opposes markets for natural resources and carbon, and national laws on food.



Revenue from HR 763

REMI Fee per Ton of CO2

Billions Revenue, REMI p.32

HR 763 Fee per Ton of CO2

Billions Revenue, interpolated from REMI numbers

Year after Bill Passes





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Year 2





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[1] The words "As if burnt, except no fee on well leaks" do not appear in the Deutch bill; they are based on the following rules in the bill: Fee is paid on gas going into the gas transmission system (9901(f)(3)(A)), not on leakage before then. Fee is based on "use" of the gas, not leaks, even after it enters the transmission system (9901(o)).

On the other hand, imports do pay border adjustment on leaks from wells and storage in other countries (9908((c)(1)(A) "full fuel cycle greenhouse gas emissions" defined in 9901(l) and (t) "fuel's upstream greenhouse gas emissions").

[2] REMI 2014. Nystrom, Scott, and Patrick Luckow. "The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power, and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-and-Dividend Carbon Tax ." REMI and Synapse Study, Regional Economic Model Institute, 9 June 2014,

[3] Columbia analysis of Curbelo bill:

[4] McFarland, James R., et al. “Overview of The EMF 32 Study on U.S. Carbon Tax Scenarios.” Climate Change Economics, vol. 9, no. 1, 20 Mar. 2018, p. 22,