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Charleston Gazette - January 12, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's leading lawmakers said Tuesday that protecting the coal industry will be their priority during this year's regular legislative session, which starts Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, said the Obama administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are taking a "harsh stand" against coal. 

"They have a whole new attitude about the coal industry," Chafin said Tuesday during the West Virginia Chamber's 2010 Legislative Issues & Outlook Conference in Charleston. "We just have to stand united."

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House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, suggested the Legislature establish a select committee to react to federal legislation that affects the coal and energy industry in West Virginia.

"We need to be prepared to address those impacts on the state level," Armstead said. "We are all concerned about the future of coal."

The legislative leaders said the state relies on the coal industry for jobs and coal severance taxes.

"We absolutely have to have that revenue," said House Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton. "If we don't have that revenue, we'll be in a world of hurt in West Virginia. This is not a partisan issue. It's a West Virginia issue."

Senate Minority Whip Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, said the state must continue to invest in clean-coal technologies.

"That's good for our coal industry and exports right now," Barnes said. "We're exporting a tremendous amount of coal right now."

Barnes also said the state must continue to reduce business taxes and remain "fiscally prudent" -- a recommendation embraced by other legislative leaders.

"We haven't let ourselves be pulled down into the partisan bickering we see in Washington," Boggs said. "That's not happening here. We have some differences, but at the end of the day we work closely together.

"We have taken responsible steps," Boggs added. "Tough steps. Hard steps."

Armstead noted that West Virginia lost 25,000 jobs last year. More than 67,000 people were unemployed.

"I think we need to look at bold changes to our tax structure and our regulatory structure," he said.

Chafin said the state must take a hard look at its personal income tax. Some states, such as Florida, don't require residents to pay personal income taxes.

"We want people to move to West Virginia who make money, who want to make money," he said. 

About 300 state business leaders attended Tuesday's conference at the Charleston Marriott.

On behalf of the West Virginia Coal Forum and West Virginia University’s National Research Center for Coal & Energy, we would like to extend an invitation to you to attend an energy forum to be held from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at the WVU National Research Center for Coal & Energy in Morgantown, West Virginia.  There is no fee to attend.

September 25, 2008-- On behalf of the West Virginia Coal Forum and West Virginia University’s National Research Center for Coal & Energy, we would like to extend an invitation to you to attend an energy forum to be held from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at the WVU National Research Center for Coal & Energy in Morgantown, West Virginia.  There is no fee to attend.

The purpose of this forum is to expose civic, legislative, research, and opinion leaders in West Virginia to Imagine West Virginia’s “Coal:  Energy, The Environment & West Virginia Policy Recommendations” and to facilitate discussion on coal’s role in our state and nation’s energy strategy.

Speakers include:

  • Congressman Alan Mollohan (invited)
  • UMWA President Cecil Roberts
  • WVU President Peter Magrath
  • Imagine West Virginia Board Member Pat Getty
  • WVU Vice President for Research Curt Peterson
  • NETL Director of the Strategic Center for Coal Scott Klara
  • West Virginia Division of Energy Director Jeff Herholdt
  • Senator Jay Rockefeller (taped remarks)
  • WV Coal Association Senior Vice-President Chris Hamilton
  • Secretary of WV DEP Randy Huffman

The event will include three parts, which include:

  • Comments by elected officials
  • Presentation by Imagine West Virginia outlining their study recommendations
  • Panel discussion on the Imagine West Virginia report and coal’s position in state and national energy policy.

You can learn more about Imagine West Virginia and their report at www.imaginewestvirginia.com .

Please RSVP by emailing your name and organization name to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday, October 10, 2008.  

We appreciate your consideration and hope to see you on October 15, 2008.

Parking Information

DIRECTIONS / PARKING INFORMATION

The event will be held in Assembly Rooms 101 A&B just off the main lobby in the WVU National Center for Coal & Energy Research Building, located on Evansdale Drive in Morgantown.

Parking is available for attendees.  See directions and parking instructions below:

1. From the East: Take I-68 to I-79, then go North to Exit 155 (WVU exit).
2. From the North (Pittsburgh) or South (Charleston): follow I-79 to Exit 155 (WVU exit).
3. Proceed toward WVU/Morgantown and US 19 South. (Bear right past Sheetz gas station/convenience store onto US 19 South).
4. Cross the Edith Barrill Bridge (also known as the Star City Bridge) and continue straight at the light. (CVS Pharmacy, Golden Corral will be on the right.)
5. Stay in right lane. After light, stay in this lane.
6. Go straight through the next light, staying in the same lane, and still following 19 South. (You will pass the WVU Coliseum on your right.)
7. Turn left at the next light onto Evansdale Drive to enter the Evansdale Campus.
8. When you turn onto Evansdale Drive, you will see the white Creative Arts Building on your left.
9. Continue following Evansdale Drive for one quarter mile and look for the NRCCE building on your left, the third of three buildings with dark glass and red architectural accents.
10. Continue past the NRCCE and go through the 4-way stop sign and past the WVU Greenhouse (on your right).
11. After the greenhouse is a short-term parking lot on your right. Turn right into this parking lot where an attendant will give you a parking permit for the day.

*** The attendant will be on duty from Noon until 2:30 pm. If you come before or after these hours, you will need to pickup a permit at the meeting registration table in Assembly Room 101 of the NRCCE Building.

Lawmakers, coal executives and business leaders gathered in Charleston Tuesday for the first in a series of forums aimed at the future of West Virginia coal in this state and around the world.

Imagine West Virginia put the event together  It's an independent, nonpartisan, objective group that investigates and identifies issues facing the state.  A study they conducted found West Virginia's coal supply is a viable fuel source for decades to come, but there needs to be a plan to address how to best use it.

 MetroNews - 
Charleston, Kanawha County

Lawmakers, coal executives and business leaders gathered in Charleston Tuesday for the first in a series of forums aimed at the future of West Virginia coal in this state and around the world.

Imagine West Virginia put the event together  It's an independent, nonpartisan, objective group that investigates and identifies issues facing the state.  A study they conducted found West Virginia's coal supply is a viable fuel source for decades to come, but there needs to be a plan to address how to best use it.

Governor Joe Manchin was the keynote speaker at the event held at the Charleston Embassy Suites. He told the crowd that, even though many would like to keep coal in the ground, it's going to continue to power the United States.  "I know there's some people who would say 'Let's stop it completely!'  That's not the fact of life."

Currently coal powers 50% of the country's energy needs.

Manchin says you might be surprised by those who say coal is here to stay.  "We've had scientists, economists from around the world, people that you would think would absolutely line up on the other side and be totally against mining anymore coal or using fossil fuels. At the end of the day, they say at the end of the day make no mistake, we will be using coal for the next 30-50 years. Now how do you want to use it?"

The answer, according to Manchin, is by creating clean coal technology like the coal to liquid plant to be built in Benwood. The cost of the Marshall County operation is $800 million.

Governor Manchin says it will change how we power this country and he believes there are other clean ways of using coal that have yet to be developed. "Why shouldn't our major universities be the research engines to find the technology that's going to help the world?"

Meanwhile, Manchin says even if the U.S. doesn't want to use coal, there won't be a lack of buyers. Countries like China, Russia, even Italy are lining up to purchase West Virginia coal.

From climate change to mountaintop removal, environmentalists and coal producers are usually at each other’s throats
.
But can they find common ground? Is there a middle way that protects the environment, and still allows the mining and burning of coal?

That was the topic of a special forum in Charleston yesterday called “Coal: Energy, the Environment and West Virginia.”

WV Public Broadcasting

From climate change to mountaintop removal, environmentalists and coal producers are usually at each other’s throats.

But can they find common ground? Is there a middle way that protects the environment, and still allows the mining and burning of coal?

That was the topic of a special forum in Charleston yesterday called “Coal: Energy, the Environment and West Virginia.”

For the coal industry in WV, it’s the best of times, and it’s the worst of times. On one hand, coal prices are at historic highs. Developing countries like China and India are devouring coal at record rates, with no sign of stopping anytime soon.

You’d think coal officials would be deliriously happy, but they’re not. You can blame Al Gore and an Inconvenient Truth, or a massive and growing body of scientific evidence about climate change, but members of the coal industry feel like they’re under attack.

Charleston lawyer Tom Heywood laid out the challenge to participants in the coal forum.

“The challenge for West Virginia, the challenge for coal producing states and nations, is that as historically produced, coal is a dirty fuel and is regarded as a dirty fuel,” Heywood said. “And there are environmental issues associated with the production and consumption of coal.”

Heywood addressed about 100 participants at the event, sponsored by a group called The Coal Forum, which is largely supported by coal producers, and Marshall University.

Heywood served as chief of staff for former Gov. Gaston Caperton, and is part of another group called Imagine West Virginia, which issued a report earlier this year that tries to bridge the gap between coal producers and environmentalists.

Instead of a threat, he said the new emphasis on the environment could be a boon for WV and for Appalachia – if leaders can work together and invest in research and higher education.

“If you want to do energy well, in an environmentally sound fashion, go to West Virginia, go to Appalachia,” he said. “We all win in that equation. That’s our great opportunity.”

But if coal producers have to take the environment more seriously, Heywood says environmentalists have to admit the need for coal.

“The physically reality is that we cannot bridge to the future for decades if not hundreds of years without coal as part of the equation,” Heywood said. “If you accept that premise, then your choices are, how do we do coal well, how do we do coal clean, how do we capture the opportunities for coal.”

But Allan Tweddle, a consultant and member of the WV Public Energy Authority, does not accept that premise.

Clean coal depends on something called carbon sequestration – capturing the greenhouse gases created when power plants burn coal and storing them underground. Tweddle can tick off a long list of problems and shortcomings of carbon sequestration.

“Carbon sequestration is going to double the cost of coal fired power,” Tweddle said. “One of the coal presidents said it is at least 15, maybe 20 years away from being commercially viable.

“There are a myriad of legal issues that are unresolved. Who’s going to take the liability if it comes back out of the ground. And the energy it takes. I’ve heard estimates it could take 15 or 20% of the power of the power plant makes to strip out the CO2. That’s going to raise the cost of electricity,” he said.

Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the WV Coal Association, says he’s concerned about a growing movement to reduce or abolish the use of coal.

“I’m not sure that we can really appease the individuals that want to see coal eliminated, abolished from the energy mix of this country,” Hamilton said.

“But those individuals and groups that have concerns about the environment or the impacts of mining, certainly we can be more responsive to those concerns,” Hamilton added.

Gov. Joe Manchin spoke about a new coal-to-liquids plant announced last month for Marshall County. Coal-to-liquids can produce twice as much greenhouse gases as traditional gasoline, but company officials promise to use carbon sequestration to reduce that.

Cong. Shelley Moore Capito also spoke at the forum. She is proposing more federal money for clean coal research. But Congress is deadlocked over energy policy – something Capito blames on the Democratic leadership.

“Right now, we don’t have a comprehensive bill out there,” Capito said. “We haven’t been allowed to vote on anything that I think is going to address high gasoline prices and dependence on foreign oil. And any time we do get something, it’s a fight to get anything related to coal in there.”

Of course, Capito’s Democratic opponent, Anne Barth, blames Capito and other Republicans for the lack of a comprehensive energy bill, as she says in a new campaign ad.

More forums on coal and the environment are being planned for Morgantown, Logan and other towns across the state.

Now is the time.

If West Virginia wants to capitalize on its abundance of coal, its proximity to the eastern seaboard and its leadership capabilities when it comes to creating clean coal technologies, it needs to do so within the next decade, or sooner, said U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Otherwise, the state and nation have a long, uphill battle when it comes to addressing the country's energy crisis.

Herald Dispatch

Now is the time.

If West Virginia wants to capitalize on its abundance of coal, its proximity to the eastern seaboard and its leadership capabilities when it comes to creating clean coal technologies, it needs to do so within the next decade, or sooner, said U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Otherwise, the state and nation have a long, uphill battle when it comes to addressing the country's energy crisis.

But there are many factors that need to be considered if it's to do that, and those were highlighted Tuesday at an energy forum in Charleston, sponsored by the West Virginia Coal Forum and Marshall University.

Imagine West Virginia, a nonpartisan think tank, issued its first report this year and discussed its recommendations regarding coal. The report is titled "Coal: Energy, The Environment and West Virginia," and includes proposed policy recommendations for the future of coal.

Capito joined Gov. Joe Manchin, Marshall University President Stephen Kopp and representatives of the coal industry at the event. U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., had videotaped some remarks for the forum, which took place at the Embassy Suites hotel.

"Families are making choices about putting gas in their tanks or filling up their refrigerator," Rockefeller said. "These are serious problems that demand serious answers."

He proposed a future fuels corporation, government funded but corporately run, to develop production of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.
Rockefeller's emphasis on the importance of clean coal was echoed in the policy recommendations of Imagine West Virginia in its report. They include strengthening coal-related research in West Virginia, promoting expertise in mining safety and remediation of the effects of mining on land and water. Others were training tomorrow's coal-related workforce, fostering new coal-related enterprises and strengthening regional collaboration and more.
West Virginia coal provides more than 50 percent of America's electricity and nearly all of West Virginia's, The Coal Forum reports. The industry in the state employs more than 20,000 people, and the average salary is $50,000.

Energy is the hot topic of the day in West Virginia and in Washington, Capito said, and, "As we look at the national level, we have to face it.
"Our dependence on foreign oil is an important issue from an economic and security standpoint," she said. "A lot of (the world's oil providers) are not our friends."

She stressed the need for a national energy policy, the need to diversify when it comes to coal and renewable energies, and said there's no better time for change than right after a presidential election. Capito added that she has confidence in West Virginia's universities that research can be developed to make the state a leader in extracting coal "the right way and the most technologically advanced way."

Marshall University already has projects under way. The university has received $4 million -- half from the Economic Development Administration and half from state and private funds -- to look at mine safety technology innovation, said Tony Szwilski, director of Marshall's Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS).

The title of the project is Mine Safety Technology Innovation Capability and Regional Business Development for the U.S. Mining Industry.
Components of the project are creating an incubator to invest in developing new technologies, and incorporating new technologies into safety technology training.

"If anybody has an idea, if a company has an idea, we will work with them," Szwilski said. "The project is largely enhancing safety and developing new technologies ... to become a world leader and so that these technologies will be manufactured in West Virginia."

It also involves a component of bringing mine-scarred lands back to productive use, Szwilski said.

He is co-chair of a Mine Safety Technology Consortium, which has 17 members, including stakeholders in the coal industry and federal and state government. The office is based in Montgomery, W.Va.

Meanwhile, Marshall's College of Information Technology and Engineering has had a graduate mine safety program at an academy in Beckley for 27 years.
"We deliver graduate courses to mine inspectors and also members of the coal industry," Szwilski said. "It's a very popular program for mine inspectors across the United States."

Manchin also pointed to a recently announced $800 million investment in Marshall County for a coal-to-liquid plant as a demonstration of West Virginia's leadership capabilities in coal advancements.

"I've had the chance to travel and have seen the appetite -- especially China," he said. "Coal is here to stay.

"There will be more demand for coal around the world than ever before. ...We've heard speakers, economists from around the world who would be totally against mining coal say, 'We will be using coal for the next 30 years.' ... I've had other countries come to West Virginia and say, 'We're going to fossil -- can you supply the coal we need?' "

At the same time, West Virginia should be aware that some countries are turning toward renewable energy sources, said Allan Tweddle, a member of the West Virginia Public Energy Authority. He cited South Africa and Vancouver, Canada, as examples, and pointed out that while coal's price tag is going up, the costs of wind and solar power are coming down.

He added that coal sequestration could be very complicated and bring on some legal issues, as well as raising the price of coal production even more.

"As a member of the Public Energy Authority, I say we must have a diverse energy policy and make sure we're not solely dependent on coal fired power," he said.

West Virginia has the opportunity to become a worldwide leader in energy production and technology, according to Gov. Joe Manchin.

“The opportunity and desire are here for West Virginia to lead in the development of coal technologies, mining safety and environmental stewardship as well as continuing to be a leader in the production of coal,” Manchin said during Tuesday’s Coal Forum.


Beckley Register Herald

West Virginia has the opportunity to become a worldwide leader in energy production and technology, according to Gov. Joe Manchin.

“

The opportunity and desire are here for West Virginia to lead in the development of coal technologies, mining safety and environmental stewardship as well as continuing to be a leader in the production of coal,” Manchin said during Tuesday’s Coal Forum.

“

Why shouldn’t our universities be the research engines? If we do it right, West Virginia will be a world leader in energy.”

Manchin was one of many speakers to discuss and debate the state’s energy future.

“

Our nation must declare energy independence from foreign oil,” Manchin said. “I believe by 2030 that West Virginia can be totally energy independent.”



Steve Walker of Walker Machinery said energy is on the minds of all Americans.

“

The current energy crisis is affecting all Americans and our energy policy in this nation right now is no policy,” he said. “It’s eaten up with politics, and, in my opinion, it’s not good for West Virginia or the citizens of this country.”



Coal makes up about 50 percent of the nation’s mass electric generation, and that percentage is expected to increase to 58 percent in the next 10 years if nothing is done, according to the governor.

“

A national policy that put 100 percent into renewable sources of energy and nothing into its main base, which is coal, is not a realistic way to solve the nation and world’s energy crisis,” Manchin said.



In addition to Manchin, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito also offered remarks to those attending the forum.

“

Congress is a huge obstruction in the national energy portfolio and I’m working hard to remove that obstruction,” Capito said.



Marshall University and the West Virginia Coal Forum sponsored the meeting at which recommendations on the state’s energy future were unveiled.

“

The purpose of the event is to expose civic, legislative and opinion leaders in the state to Imagine West Virginia’s policy recommendations and to facilitate discussion on coal’s role in our state and nation’s energy strategy,” said Chris Hamilton, co-chairman of the West Virginia Coal Forum.



The report offered an ambitious set of 10 recommendations ranging from increasing the amount of coal industry-related classes in schools to more money for research. Beyond that, the report offered little in the way of specifics.

Rick Remish, executive director of Imagine West Virginia, said the costs associated with the report’s recommendations will be estimated by a recently formed task force charged with following through on the goals.

“

I don’t have an exact dollar figure, but that is obviously a critical question,” Remish said.

One more detailed recommendation by the group suggests redirection of federal research dollars. More than 80 percent of federal funding for coal research has gone toward “downstream” matters like carbon sequestration, while .2 percent of the funding has gone to mining research and 1.8 percent has gone to environmental reclamation.



The report — and speakers including Manchin and Capito — argues that such research is needed because coal will remain the major component of American energy for the foreseeable future.



Not everyone at the conference believes the future is so bright.



Allan Tweddle, a member of the state Public Energy Authority, said the report should have taken more account of external economic pressures, such as countries like Canada and Germany moving away from coal use.



Tweddle said the medium-range economic picture for coal is complicated, citing estimates that so-called clean coal technology may cause the price of coal to rise.

“The cost of wind power and solar power is coming down, constantly,” he said.



Imagine West Virginia is affiliated with the statewide nonprofit group Vision Shared.



Hamilton says the recommendations focus on what it will take to make West Virginia a global leader in technologically advanced, environmentally responsible coal production.

“

The recommendations are a thoughtful blueprint for West Virginia to follow in developing our own energy strategies,” he said.



Remish said Imagine West Virginia believes that during the time it will take the world to develop and fully deploy renewable energy sources, coal will continue to be a major source of energy both in the U.S. and internationally.

“

Advanced research and development aimed at producing environmentally acceptable, safer and more efficient mining and uses of coal must be accelerated,” he said. “This achievement would bring significant economic, societal and environmental benefits to the state and the nation.”