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Expand chart
Adapted from Morris, et. al, 2019,  "The risk of fiscal collapse in coal-reliant communities"; Chart; Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Local governments face severe economic risks from coal's ongoing decline and future climate policies, yet often fail to disclose these threats in their municipal bond filings, a report shows.

Why it matters: It's a sobering look at what could be in store for specific mining-dependent regions, where coal revenues account for a third or more of the budget, and the sector's collapse could have severe ripple effects.

  • The analysis — from a Columbia University energy think tank and the Brookings Institution — arrives as Democratic White House hopefuls push emissions policies that would hasten coal's power-sector decline.
  • However, the Democratic proposals also aim to help fossil fuel workers and communities transition to other economic sectors.

What they found: One conclusion is that "even a moderately stringent climate policy could create existential risks for the coal industry." Mining employs roughly 53,000 people and its economic importance to coal-dependent regions affects far more people still.

  • Another is that while new climate policies would further threaten coal-mining regions' ability to pay outstanding bond debt, their filings fail to capture this.
  • "[O]ur review of the outstanding bonds indicates that municipalities are at best uneven and at worst misleading (by omission) in their characterizations of climate-related risks," it states.

The bottom line: The report emphasizes the need for economic diversification of coal-reliant economies — and federal investment and support for these regions and their workers.

  • "A new source of government revenue may be required to push a serious economic development program across the finish line, and logical source of these funds would be a federal carbon price," it states.

Go deeper: Coal communities risk fiscal collapse (Washington Examiner)

Go deeper

Updated 13 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

15 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.