The area around the Cleveland Clinic, from this article on the wealthy, world class, non-profit (non-tax paying) medical center and the devastated neighborhoods around it. Photo M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico.
Thanks to cheap natural gas and renewable energy, coal is dying. That’s just a fact of modern life. While some coal will still exist, it won’t be enough to save the Rust Belt and Appalachia (areas that weren’t exactly swimming in money before coal disappeared).
So the next step is figuring out what thriving modern industry can replace those jobs for a long period of time. It would have to be a livelihood that’s a) easy to train coal miners to do and b) growing enough to sustain a huge workforce.
The transition is already happening in places like Australia, where a coal mining town transformed itself into one of the country’s largest solar farming communities. It’s also in the U.S., where areas in Colorado rose from the coal ashes with a $800,000 boost in marijuana tax revenue. There have even been studies looking into the transition, which found that most coal mining workers not only could be cheaply retrained to work solar and wind farm gigs, but would also make more doing it.
This isn’t a hard decision, people. So what’s the goddamn holdup?
Well … despite creating 150,000 full- and part-time jobs, certain politicians can’t seem to leave the 1980s when it comes to marijuana. While obviously not the wonder drug stoners want you to think, it’s insane we have an attorney general who’s apparently possessed by the ghost of Nancy Reagan. As for renewable energy, well, that’s oddly off the current administration’s to-do list, despite overwhelming bipartisan support for it.