Analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) finds that, not only it is possible to support coal workers in the shift to a low-carbon economy, but these comprehensive policies are affordable.
UCS and UWUA estimated the number of coal miners and coal-fired power plant workers at risk of losing jobs before reaching age 65 as the coal industry declines, and identified the number of US counties at risk due to their direct link to coal.
Comprehensive support for these workers would include five years of wage replacement, health coverage, continued employer contributions to retirement funds or pension plans, and tuition and job placement assistance.
In total, the analysis finds these supports would cost roughly between $33 billion over 25 years and $83 billion over 15 years—a fraction of the trillions of dollars of needed investments in the energy system in coming decades as we shift to a low-carbon economy.
As the energy mix changes—rather than offer false hope for reinvigorated coal markets—we must plan thoughtfully and offer support to the workers and communities that have sacrificed so much to build this country.