ROANOKE, W. Va. — West Virginia can become a leader in energy production if the different branches within the industry work together.
This was the message from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin as he and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin spoke to industry leaders to close out the Governor’s Energy Summit held at Stonewall Jackson Resort in Lewis County.
Tomblin said the two-day event which ended Friday afternoon is important because it brings all sides to the table to share ideas and information.
“We’re one of the major energy producers in the country, if not the top energy producer,” he said. “I just think it’s important that they come here to share ideas and so forth, to be able to look at what the prospects are, the future of energy, what the courts are doing and to just share that information, I think, is very important.”
The first summit was put together by Manchin while he was serving as governor.
“I’m so proud that Governor Tomblin has kept it on and it’s getting bigger and better,” he said. “It’s just great to have everybody come together.”
The event featured 24 different speakers given presentations ranging in title from “Energy Markets, Energy Policy and Coal: Implications for Coal-Dependent Economies” to “Industrial Energy Efficiency Activities in West Virginia.”
As the summit has grown over the years, more members from the renewable energy industry have joined in participating. Tomblin said he hopes more will emerge in the future to help diversify the state’s energy portfolio and edify the main industries of coal and natural gas.
“Those two are so important, supplying the bulk of electricity, but the other [resources] including conservation have all got to be considered as part of West Virginia’s energy portfolio and the way we move forward.”
Another resource Tomblin hopes the state will add to the portfolio and highlighted in his speech was West Virginia’s workforce, saying the success of programs like the “My State. My Life.” campaign which aim to educate the state’s students and prepare them for the working world will propel the energy industry.
At the conclusion of the speeches, the two held a conversion with those in attendance and answered questions, mainly about how and if the state government and U.S. Senate were addressing the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan aimed at cutting carbon pollution, ultimately by 2030.
Some argue this goal is not achievable without getting rid of the fossil fuel industry, others like Manchin believe a balance can be reached if the EPA allows for more time to develop the proper technology and others believe West Virginia can outright achieve this goal on time and not get rid of the fossil fuel industry.
Discussions such as these remained civil and informative during the summit, which Machin said is the point.
“This is not a place to come and fight and air out your differences. [This is about] finding out how we can use a balance between the economy and the environment using the resources we have in West Virginia and using them in the cleanest way for the environment. That’s a balance we can find. That’s doable, but you can’t do it if you don’t sit down and talk. That’s what this is all about, bringing people together.”