After decades of familiar promises, coal communities remain skeptical about Biden’s vows.

From a porch in Martin County, Ky., in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty. Decades later, President Barack Obama dedicated millions of dollars to work force development projects in Appalachia. President Donald J. Trump even pledged the impossible: a revival of the region’s faltering coal industry.

President Biden is talking big, too, assuring residents that his climate plan will also create well-paying jobs there. But after generations of promises, communities once reliant on coal mining are skeptical.

In eastern Kentucky, the poverty rate in several counties exceeds 30 percent. Unemployment is among the highest in the nation. And an outward migration over several decades has cut the populations of some counties nearly in half, leaving local governments strapped for tax revenue and struggling to fund essential services.

“Fifty years from now, this could be a ghost town,” said former Gov. Paul E. Patton, an eastern Kentucky native. “That’s my prediction.”

Days after taking office, Mr. Biden signed an executive order on climate change that also promised a new focus on economic development in communities that have been reliant on coal mining and power plants. A committee tasked with wrestling with the problem was given 60 days to make a plan. “We’re never going to forget the men and women who dug the coal and built the nation,” the president said. “We’re going to do right by them.”

Without direct federal help, local residents and experts say, people living in those communities could suffer increasingly dire consequences as the nation moves away from coal for good — ending the boom-and-bust cycle that dominated their economies with a final and decisive bust.

How the new administration follows through on its promise could be a determining factor in whether some of these communities survive at all, local residents say.

Dan Mosley, the county judge executive of Harlan County, believes that the president should consider tax incentives for people who move to distressed Appalachian counties, a highway extension and the reduction of red tape for federal grants that fund economic development projects.

“I hope this plan that’s been written isn’t just some promise to get our hopes up here,” he said.

Without direct federal help, local residents and experts say, people living in those communities could suffer increasingly dire consequences as the nation moves away from coal for good — ending the boom-and-bust cycle that dominated their economies with a final and decisive bust.

How the new administration follows through on its promise could be a determining factor in whether some of these communities survive at all, local residents say.

Dan Mosley, the county judge executive of Harlan County, believes that the president should consider tax incentives for people who move to distressed Appalachian counties, a highway extension and the reduction of red tape for federal grants that fund economic development projects.

“I hope this plan that’s been written isn’t just some promise to get our hopes up here,” he said.

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