April 05, 2012

Stop fighting facts | Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — According to Sen. Joe Manchin, “We’ve got to work together to move the country forward.”

Manchin was the featured guest during the latest session in the Marion County Chamber of Commerce’s “Coffee with Congress” series, which brings federal elected and appointed officials to the county.

The special brunch was held Wednesday morning at the Mon Power (a FirstEnergy company) Headquarters in Fairmont’s I-79 Technology Park.

Approximately 85 people from the Marion County business community attended and had the opportunity to hear Manchin share his thoughts and ideas.

“Joe Manchin is all about the people of West Virginia,” Jim Haney, president of West Virginia Operations for FirstEnergy Corp., said as he introduced the senator.

Throughout his life, Manchin has focused on the needs, wants and well-being of the citizens of the state, Haney said.

Manchin, D.W.Va., said the governmental process is not about taking sides. He has a responsibility to bring the facts forward about what West Virginia has accomplished and to make people understand those positives. The state has to tell the story of how coal has made it an energy leader in the world.

West Virginia is also open to renewable energy sources. This is important because the next 30 to 50 years will be a transition period, as more fossil fuel will be used in the world in the decades to come, Manchin said.

“It’s kind of hard to fight the facts,” he said. “We’re trying to bring some common sense into this global market.”

When constituents ask Manchin why something can’t be done about the high gas prices, he points to this period of global uncertainty. He said the country hasn’t seen the end of high gas prices, which he believes could get up to $4.50 or $5 a gallon eventually and would really hurt the economy and the people.

The only way to get out of that situation is to not be dependent on foreign oil. The nation has the chance to wean itself off of foreign oil by using more natural gas, and has an abundance of natural resources it can benefit from, Manchin said.

“The natural gas is a game changer right now,” he said.

Manchin talked about how the world’s GDP (gross domestic product) is currently at $60 tril¬lion, and the United States makes up $15 trillion of that. The global economy is expected to grow to $200 trillion in the next 30 years.

He said there’s no other nation on Earth that is able to rebound like the United States, which provides freedoms as a demo¬cratic country. The nation needs to get its finances in order, and West Virginia is proof that it is possible.

“We’ve got to have solid, financial footing,” Manchin said. “We need to rebuilt America again. Our infrastruc¬ture is falling apart.”

Of course, tough decisions must be made in order for change to happen, he said. A big problem with the United States is its education, because the country is not producing the workforce skill sets to attract investment.

Manchin said he wants to make sure that West Virginia is in a good position moving for¬ward.

“We want to keep people growing and producing in West Virginia,” he said.

Marion County and other counties, as well as municipalities, must do their best and work to keep jobs, Manchin said. He commented that the area has a great infrastructure and a won¬derful high-tech corridor.

When Manchin took questions from the audience, Jim Estep, president and CEO of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, thanked him for working very hard and aggressively to protect what Marion County has. Estep was refering to budget concerns with federal agencies and said those entities are the anchors of the high-technology sector.

By:  Jessica Borders
Source: Manchin: Country must make use of abundant natural resources