The Roosevelt Project

The Appalachian Pennsylvania Study 

APPALACHIAN PENNSYLVANIA faces the ongoing disruption from the decline of coal, with disruption from the potential decline of natural gas. It will also face a moderate risk of heat stress and high risk of extreme rainfall in the years to come, driven by climate change.

Across Appalachia, coal production has declined by over 45% since 2005, driven by a lack of economic competitiveness and emissions regulation, expected to drop further in the coming years. The region has lost over 33,500 coal jobs since 2011—82% of total U.S. coal job losses. The bulk of those losses are concentrated in just 16 Appalachian counties, including Greene County. Pennsylvania as a whole is home to 9% of the nation’s coal jobs. The economic impacts of ongoing decline of coal in Appalachian Pennsylvania have been buffered in part by a boom in natural gas. Pennsylvania has gone from having negligible gas production, as recently as 2008, to producing 19% of the nation’s natural gas, today. This boom shows little sign of slowing: Greene County experienced a 33% year-over-year growth in natural gas production in 2019. Without intervention, Appalachian Pennsylvania faces continued, accelerating job losses due to the decline of coal, and the impending decline and uncertain role of natural gas in the future.


Study Team Members

Stephen D. Ansolabehere
Case Study Lead

Kathleen Araújo
Boise State Faculty Collaborator

Valerie J. Karplus
MIT and Carnegie Mellon 
Faculty Collaborator

Dustin Tingley
Harvard Faculty Collaborator

Yiran He
MIT Research Assistant

Alison Hu
Harvard Research Assistant

Heidi Li
MIT Research Assistant

Elizabeth Thom
Harvard Research Assistant 


Study Advisory Board

Brian J. Anderson
National Energy Technology Laboratory

Thomas M. Conway
United Steel Workers

Melanie Dickersbach
Exelon Corporation

Earl Gohl
Appalachian Regional Commission

Katie McGinty
Johnson Controls

Michael McQuade
Carnegie Mellon University

Morgan O'Brien
Peoples Natural Gas Company

Stefani Pashman
Allegheny Conference

Andrew Place
Clean Air Task Force

Sam Reiman
Richard King Mellon Foundation

Audrey Russo
Pittsburgh Technology Council 



Case Study Materials

A Low Carbon Energy Transition in Southwest Pennsylvania
(preliminary draft)

by Stephen Ansolabehere, Kathleen Araújo, Yiran He, Alison Hu, Valerie Karplus, Heidi Li, Elizabeth Thom, and Dustin Tingley