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Expand chart
Data: RMI; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

A new analysis finds that greatly accelerating wind and solar power deployment would bring major economic benefits to rural areas, with Appalachia seeing especially strong gains.

Driving the news: The clean energy think tank RMI is out with new regional-level projections shared first with Axios and shown above.

  • They looked at estimated revenues under an aggressive buildout that would see the U.S. reach 90% zero-carbon power by 2035.

How it works: RMI estimated direct benefits over the life of renewables projects built from 2021-2030 from tax revenues, land lease payments, and jobs and wages from building, operating and maintaining the projects.

  • It did not model indirect economic benefits, such as manufacturing and revenues to nearby businesses.

Why it matters: Democrats hope to move big renewables policies on Capitol Hill, including expanded tax credits and a new system of financial carrots and sticks for utilities.

  • A huge question is whether Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin will back the efforts, which require his vote in the 50-50 Senate.
  • RMI's analysis shows that Appalachia, including Manchin's state, would fare well under aggressive deployment scenarios.

Catch up fast: Those regional estimates update a report RMI released earlier this year about rural benefits from renewables deployment.

What's next: RMI plans to step up circulation of the report and the newer regional analyses.

  • "We think all lawmakers should look at this data as it challenges widely held beliefs about the energy transition," said John Coequyt, RMI's U.S. government affairs director, in an email.

Go deeper

Oct 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Manchin's red lines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has told the White House the child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and family income cap in the $60,000 range, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: While Manchin’s demands would dramatically weaken one of President Biden’s signature programs to help working families, they also would reduce the package’s overall costs.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from Saturday night, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is forecast to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.