Local officials have had mixed reactions to the federal efforts. Steve Henry, the judge-executive of Webster County, Ky., said he believed they could bring renewable energy investments and help attract other industries to the region. The county experienced a significant drop in tax revenue after its last mine shut down in 2019, and it now employs fewer 911 dispatchers and deputy sheriffs because officials cannot offer more competitive wages.
“I think we can recover,” he said. “But it’s going to be a long recovery.”
Adam O’Nan, the judge-executive of Union County, Ky., which has one coal mine left, said he thought renewable energy would bring few jobs to the area, and he doubted that a manufacturing plant would be built because of the county’s inadequate infrastructure.
“It’s kind of difficult to see how it reaches down into Union County at this point,” Mr. O’Nan said. “We’re best suited for coal at the moment.”
Federal and state efforts so far have done little to help workers like James Ault, 42, who was employed at an oil refinery in Contra Costa County, Calif., for 14 years before he was laid off in 2020. To keep his family afloat, he depleted his pension and withdrew most of the money from his 401(k) early.
In early 2022, he moved to Roseville, Calif., to work at a power plant, but he was laid off again after four months. He worked briefly as a meal delivery driver before landing a job in February at a nearby chemical manufacturer.
He now makes $17 an hour less than he did at the refinery and is barely able to cover his mortgage. Still, he said he would not return to the oil industry.
“With our push away from gasoline, I feel that I would be going into an industry that is kind of dying,” Mr. Ault said.