Is it possible for the nation to “hit the reset button” when it comes to coal?
That’s the hope — time will tell if it’s realistic — after a meeting between the new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, and several West Virginia Democrats and others who traveled to Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio, Democratic congressional candidate Nick Casey, Chris Hamilton of the West Virginia Coal Association and Bill Banig with the United Mine Workers of America were among the delegation.
Puccio, The State Journal reported, said the delegation was restricted on the number of participants, and several letters from other lawmakers in support of the delegation were passed along during the meeting and more were on the way.
The delegation met with McCarthy, EPA staff and senior advisers to President Barack Obama, whom many believe is the leader of a “war on coal.”
“I told them that ‘the war on coal’ is not an optical illusion, that it was real,” Manchin said. “It’s not just a war in West Virginia or this country, but it’s a war around the world.”
The good news is that communication has been established between coal interests and McCarthy.
The previous director, Lisa Jackson, received three letters from Tomblin, Miley told The Associated Press, but the governor never got either a response or any acknowledgment that the letters had been received. McCarthy’s reception on the day she was officially sworn in, Miley said, “speaks volumes to her willingness to try to understand.”
“I believe we’ll have the opportunity to hit the reset button and have a constructive dialogue,” Miley said.
Rahall said McCarthy made some comments about the need for coal that are “a source of some encouragement.”
As we have continually pointed out, much progress has been made in mining and burning coal in a more environmentally friendly way over the years, and efforts to improve further must continue. Coal, even with efforts to address climate change, will be a significant and needed part of the energy portfolio in the nation and world for decades to come. It’s part of abundant, affordable energy that’s essential to a sound, growing economy.
Tomblin said McCarthy promised to have an open dialogue and consider the economic impact of EPA’s policies, something that the Republican members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation — Reps. David McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito — have also demanded.
There will be a close watch to see if McCarthy’s words to the delegation mean something.
“However, the proof will be in the pudding,” Rahall said, “and our delegation made abundantly clear that there must be greater equity between environmental goals and economic needs.”
The delegation invited McCarthy to visit West Virginia to see first-hand the impact the EPA has on the coal industry.
“She didn’t confirm right there,” Manchin said, “but I think we can make that happen.”
Moving forward, it’s critical that all stakeholders — from miners to industry to lawmakers to regulators — be heavily involved in the future of coal.
“If we’re going to have an honest conversation about climate change and the future of coal, we can’t afford to leave anyone out — from miners and their families to coal operators, utility companies and policy-makers. It’s in our interest as West Virginians to be part of the solution, and it’s in our interest as a nation to invest in clean coal,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who is in his final term before retirement.
“We should start with a real public-private partnership among all stakeholders, especially in these tough budget times.
“The administration sent the right message last week when our new Energy Secretary (Ernest) Moniz touted clean coal during a visit with the experts in West Virginia. But actions speak louder than words, on all sides, and the details of how we move forward matter a great deal. I will never stop believing that we can work together to find common ground in supporting our miners and investing in clean coal. That hard work must begin today.”
Is it possible for the nation to “hit the reset button” when it comes to coal?
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
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Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
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During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
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Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
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So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
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