Feds make broadband push in coal country

Feds make broadband push in coal country

The Obama administration on Wednesday selected 10 cities for a program to expand broadband internet offerings in rural areas and coal country. 

Under the plan, the cities will receive technical assistance to set up “ connected, economically vibrant main streets and small-town neighborhoods” through broadband internet service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a Wednesday statement. 

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The program is designed to help cities attract workers and businesses in rural towns, and diversify local economies in Appalachia beyond traditional coal mining operations. 

“We’re excited to be working with these local leaders and use broadband service as a creative strategy to improve the environment and public health in Appalachian communities,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy & Environment — White House announces new climate office New White House office to develop climate change policies Kerry: Climate summit 'bigger, more engaged, more urgent' than in past MORE said in a statement. 

The program, dubbed “Cool and Connected,” is a product of the EPA, Agriculture Department and the Appalachian Regional Commission. The latter is a part of an Obama administration push called the “POWER” program to invest in Appalachian coal communities that have been hit hard by the downturn in the coal industry. 

The list of participating cities includes one each from Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia, two each from Ohio and Pennsylvania, and three from West Virginia. 

The Obama administration announced the program in May, funding projects in five other cities.