WV House representatives tout coal’s future, promise to fight - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV House representatives tout coal’s future, promise to fight

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In the final day of the West Virginia Coal Symposium, state members of the U.S. House vowed to continue fighting for coal in Washington.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller both said conflicts did not allow them to attend the symposium.

All three House members were in attendance – Republicans Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. David McKinley and Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall – and all spoke at the symposium Friday morning.

West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney had praise for all three members of West Virginia's delegation.

"We've got three of the strongest House representatives with us today," Raney said. "… We're so very appreciative (of the West Virginia House representatives)."

Capito told the crowd that there are "folks in Washington" who would like to see the end of coal. However, she said she is fighting to make sure the coal industry remains a part of both domestic and global markets.

"We have to look at economic impacts because we're always trying to achieve a balance," Capito said.

She said that many in D.C. want to "clamp down" on the "life of coal." She specifically nixed the idea of a carbon tax.

"A carbon tax to me is just another name for cap and trade," Capito said. "That already failed."

Rahall quoted a recent statement from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who said coal was a "dead man walking."

"How soon people forget," Rahall said. "There would not be a New York City if it were not for coal. There would not be a United States of America if not for coal."

Rahall said one can not "blindly dismiss" coal in the nation's energy mix.

"This country can not survive on windmills and solar panels alone," Rahall said. "Even with the resurgence of natural gas, coal will continue to be needed not only as a power source, but for steel making as well."

McKinley said that, worldwide, people will continue to use coal. He was skeptical of the illness and disease that studies have linked to coal usage.

"What we deal with in Washington is not West Virginia, it's a little different over there," McKinley said.

McKinley also addressed the idea of climate change. He said the president "overstepped his bounds" in saying that executive action would be taken on climate change if Congress fails to act.

McKinley said climate change is undoubtedly happening. Whether or not it's man-made, he insists, is up for debate.

"The real question for all of us, the issue is, is it man-made or is naturally cyclical? We know it's changing," McKinley said.

Mike Duncan, president of Americans for Clean Coal Electricity, told the symposium audience in his speech that coal will persist.

"We're not being shuttered, we're being transformed," Duncan said.