U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) took two fellow committee members on a guided tour of West Virginia’s energy producing sites this weekend.
“This whole tour is about a state that is all into energy,” Manchin said at a press conference held at Mountain Laurel Complex at Sharples Friday afternoon. “That means we are going to use everything we have to the best of our ability within in the environmental and best practices that we can. All we are asking is for our government and the EPA to work with us, not against us and be an ally — not an adversary.”
Making the tour with Manchin were Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Senator Murkowski is the leading Republican member of the committee and Senator Wyden will be the highest-ranking Democrat after the retirement of Chairman Jeff Bingaman. Senator Manchin is also a member of the committee.
“In West Virginia, we truly have an all-of-the-above approach to energy and, for the first time, I am bringing leaders in both parties together to see how our state is an example of how to develop a comprehensive energy policy using all our domestic resources,” said Manchin.
Manchin said the little state of West Virginia has done a lot of “heavy lifting” for many years.
“We have provided most of the fuel for us to be what we are today and we continue to in a very efficient manner,” Manchin said.
Manchin said the tour had flew over a wind farm at Mt. Hope, the Logan Airport based on a mountaintop removal and industrial parks.
“We are seeing that if it done and done right, we can take the energy and resources the good Lord gave us and leave the land for better use,” Manchin said. “And we can all have a win-win situation.”
Murkowski said she appreciated that Manchin gave her and Wyden the opportunity to see a state that is really engaged in “all of the above.”
“A little bit of renewable … we are going to see a little bit of hydro, along with the wind,” said Murkowski. “Clearly, what you have in terms of abundance of fossil reserves with your coal and the Marcellus Shell, I have the opportunity to see what is happening in one state to be more secure about our energy.”
Murkowski said she had been focused about what the country needs as a defined energy policy.
“I’ve isolated it down to five areas. It has to be affordable. Think about what is our more affordable energy resource is this country. It is coal. It has to be accessible. When you are sitting in the middle of these mountains, it is clearly accessible.
“It has to be clean. What we saw at the facility this morning, with what technology has allowed us to do, it’s to that point to where coal is clean. We also have to be diverse. Again, we are sitting in a state where there is a little bit of everything. And the last area is it has to be secure… when we are relying on others to be our energy sources — that is our greatest weakness… our greatest vulnerability,” said Murkowski.
Wyden said that if you wanted to adopt a really bad law, just adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.
“That is what Senator Murkowski, Senator Manchin and I are going to steer clear of, because the fact of the matter is there differences in our country,” said Wyden. “After your shift here today, I know all you want to do is go out and do a little great fishing, maybe hunting… but I know you want to be outdoors. I don’t see any evidence that working class folks here are interested in robbing and pillaging their land, their air and their water. Quite the opposite, I think they want to protect their treasures and at the same time they want to make a living.
“I’m sure you are sitting out there wondering who’s going to work with us on these coal issues… how to protect West Virginia. Murkowski and I don’t have all the answers. We are here to learn and listen and go back to Washington DC to try and solve some problems. You have an outstanding voice for West Virginia on the energy commission,” said Wyden.
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.), who was not on the tour, issued the following statement.
“I have long held the belief that the key to building our energy future is to understand the challenges and opportunities that exist by doing research on the ground – throughout West Virginia and the country,” said Rockefeller. It’s great to have leaders on the Senate Energy Committee in our state to see West Virginia’s resources first hand and learn about how West Virginia plays a critical role in the energy of our country.”
The two-day tour concluded Saturday and included a Marcellus Shale drilling pad, coal mines, a coal-fired power plant, a wind farm and reclaimed surface mining locations.