The U.S. government has announced a $450m funding package for clean energy projects at current or former coal mine sites, as part of President Joe Biden’s plan to tackle climate change.
Funding Package for Clean Energy
The funding package is part of the 2021 infrastructure law, and at least two of the five funded projects will be solar farms, according to an article published in Cleveland19.
The government will also offer incentives for investment in clean energy projects, with a 10% bonus for developers investing in communities affected by coal mine closures, and billions of dollars in new bonuses. The U.S. is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The plan is modeled on a former coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts that is transitioning to offshore wind power, which Biden visited last year. Mining areas such as Appalachia have the infrastructure, workforce, expertise, and “can-do attitude” to produce energy, according to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, whose agency will oversee the grant program.
The government will award up to $16m to the University of North Dakota and West Virginia University to develop ways of extracting minerals such as lithium, copper, and nickel from coal mine waste. These minerals are used in batteries for electric vehicles and other technologies, and Biden has made increasing domestic mining a priority.
Funding Package for Clean Energy Have Faced Opposition
The president’s efforts to shift the economy towards renewable energy have faced opposition, particularly from Democrats representing coal-producing states. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, has criticized Biden’s “anti-coal agenda” and accused the government of ignoring the severe economic impact of declining domestic production of coal and other fossil fuels.
In a published article in CBS News, Manchin has also complained that new guidelines for electric vehicle tax credits do not move quickly enough to bring manufacturing back to the US and ensure reliable supply chains. The White House has said that Biden’s statements on coal have been “twisted to suggest a meaning that was not intended”.
The Energy Department has said that the projects funded by the new grant program will provide knowledge and experience to catalyze the next generation of clean energy projects on mine land, and grant decisions are expected in early 2023.