October 06, 2013

Manchin, Kopp defend coal industry | Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BECKLEY — Although U.S. Senator Joe Manchin III and Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp were at the Tamarack Conference Center to recognize achievement, they unleashed a no-holds-barred, unbridled salvo on the federal bureaucracy’s efforts to hamstring the state’s coal industry.

“When you look at the source of this state’s strength, Marshall University has relied heavily on the coal industry,” Kopp said. “Many of the coal miners of our state send their sons and daughters to Marshall University to receive their education.”

Kopp said flatly that the federal Environmental Protection Agency is “unraveling” the state and nation’s values by promulgating regulations that are contrary to the U.S. Congress as well as the environmental protection agencies of each state in the U.S.

“We need a more sane approach,” Kopp said. “When you can shut down the U.S. government — when a fringe group can do it — this is not the way the American government should function.” Kopp expressed his opinion that the present path is not the appropriate path. “We’re doing it to ourselves,” he said. Kopp said that he thinks the nation is “at a crossroads,” and noted that the divisiveness in Washington “has had a polarizing effect on our economy.”

Manchin said that West Virginians need to have pride in the heritage and to share that pride with the people that they meet. We better tell our story before someone tells one on us,” he said. He said that coal still provides 35-40 percent of the energy produced in the U.S., and that while natural gas has increased its market share to a point where it is running even with coal, no other energy source comes close.

“We’ve done the job. We’ve cleaned up our industry,” he said. Still, Manchin said that the U.S. only burns about 1 billion tons of the 8 billion tons of coal consumed globally each year. “What we should be doing is funding research to make coal burn cleaner and more efficient. The one fuel that is abundant and reliable is coal.”

Manchin said that the people of the state need to keep telling our story. He said that during the Upper Big Branch mine explosion on April 5, 2010, a prominent news reporter from a major network said that with all the dangers associated with coal mining, “Why don’t they quit mining coal and just use more electricity?” Manchin said, repeating the words of the reporter.

“Coal mining is in our blood,” he said, and pointed out that the coal miners he has known, “will do anything they can do to provide for their families.” He praised the people of the state for their loyalty and their patriotism.

He said that West Virginia is “the bedrock of America,” and encouraged everyone to be proud of their heritage and tell their story every day. “I’m proud of our story and I tell it every day,” he said.

By:  Bill Archer