— Sen. Joe Manchin invited members from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to visit West Virginia’s energy sites this weekend to demonstrate the state’s ability to utilize diverse energy resources and to be a model for energy independence.
Manchin showed Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, West Virginia’s coalfields, wind farms, hydroelectric plants, Marcellus Shale sites and solar energy portfolio.
Manchin said they visited the ends of the state, from strip-mining in the southern region to natural gas drilling in the Northern Panhandle. And while they saw some things that could be done better, they saw many things the state is doing right, he said.
“I think people have thought of West Virginia as producing coal and coal only, but we are trying to embrace all of this. We don’t want to be written out of the equation when it comes to energy production,” he said.
The visiting senators discussed the ability for states to localize energy production by tapping natural resources, the creation of local jobs and accessing energy resources responsibly.
“I want to thank the people of West Virginia for the 100-plus years you have been supplying our country with an affordable, reliable source of energy. But there are far too many areas where we are reliant to others for our sources of energy,” Murkowski expressed.
She showed interest in other states examining their resources to move forward with energy production, to create local jobs and help the rest of the nation through energy production.
West Virginia is an exemplary example of one small state tapping the diverse resources available to it, she added.
Wyden then stated the energy committee is committed to energy independence, bipartisanship, creating good paying jobs and making sure rules are in place that protect the environment.
He said environmental policymakers and regulators need to consider differing characteristics and needs from state to state, and “I think we are going to be capable of doing that.”
“I did not see anyone in West Virginia over the last two days that wanted to pillage and ravage their wonderful land, air and water. We need to work with the EPA to protect the environment while at the same time growing more good paying jobs,” he said.
Murkowski agreed that protecting the land for families is a necessary part of their work on the committee.
Wyden added that he is excited to be working with two West Virginians to make a big difference. He said he is working with Sen. Jay Rockefeller on the finance committee and Manchin on the energy committee. He sees the chance for tax funds to put people to work diversifying the country’s energy portfolio.
Manchin noted that with the retirement of Chairman Jeff Bingaman, either Wyden or Murkowski will chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, depending on which party controls the Senate after the November election.
All three legislators, however, said they were committed to bipartisanship in shaping the nation’s energy policy.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joined the tour at the Yeager Airport Aviation Hangar in Charleston for the press conference.