By Bradley Handler, Colorado School of Mines; Matt Henry, University of Wyoming, and Morgan Bazilian, Colorado School of Mines
These are very challenging times for U.S. fossil fuel-producing states, such as Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota. The COVID-19 economic downturn has reduced energy demand, with uncertain prospects for the extent of its recovery. Meanwhile, rising concern about climate change and the declining cost of renewable energy are precipitating a sharp decline in demand for coal in particular.
As a result, fossil fuel-dependent states and communities face the prospect of budget shortfalls and lower employment for the next several years. As researchers who study energy from economic, cultural and public policy perspectives, we believe that it is time for these states to develop long-term plans to diversify their economies and help ensure just and equitable transitions.
The idea of a just transition emerged from North American labor law, and