US Senate Committee To Discuss Climate Change, Electricity Changes | WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is aimed at putting lawmakers and federal agencies on the same page on addressing climate change and a global energy marketplace.
“The hardest thing we have in Washington right now is establishing a set of facts that everybody agrees on,” Manchin said Monday. “With all of the social media, cable news and everybody else establishing their opinion, they are justifying their opinion by trying to establish their own set of facts.”
The committee will hear from climate and energy analysts about global trends in electricity production and the impact of climate change. According to Manchin, the committee’s ranking member, this will be the first hearing on climate change in eight years.
“I don’t think there is any science that doesn’t support that over the last century humans have had a tremendous impact on the detriment of the climate,” he said. “Climate is going to change and climate has always changed, but never in this rapid succession within the last century.”
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska serves as the committee’s chairman; West Virginia and Alaska rank fifth and 13th respectively regarding total energy production, with West Virginia having the second-highest coal production behind Wyoming.
Manchin said he wants to incentivize the Department of Energy and universities to research technologies related to reducing emissions, including carbon capture technology, storage for renewable energy sources and alternative fuel options.
Manchin referenced to reporters a Feb. 28 testimony from Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, which focuses on energy security through diversification of electricity sources.
Birol told the committee global energy consumption will be 25 percent higher in 2040 because of economic growth and industrialization, primarily in Asia. Counties in the region are increasingly using fossil fuels and importing liquefied natural gas, and China’s use of nuclear power generation could surpass the United States if policies are not changed.
Emissions of carbon dioxide have also increased in China and other Asian countries according to IEA, while emissions in the United States have declined.
The senator said trade agreements with other countries will be key in reducing global emissions.
“If you’re going to be trading and opening up markets to different countries — let’s say we make a final trade deal with China and India — don’t you think that climate should be part of the trade deal with some of the biggest consumers of fossil right now and the biggest polluters of CO2? I think it’s a challenge worth taking,” Manchin said.
In regards to coal, Birol said worldwide demand is expected to plateau, adding the average Asian coal plant is only 12 years old compared to the United States with plants 45 years old.
“If a person has run out the cost of a plant in American, it will probably be a decision based on economics,” Manchin said. “Over in Asia, where they spent all this money on coal-fired plants, they are going to run them out before they take them offline, I can assure you.”
The senator added he believes there is still a future for coal, even in the United States.
“We’re falling below 30 percent, and they say we’re going to level off in the 20-25 percent range for the next two decades,” he said. “We’re prepared to do what we need to do. We want to make sure people understand you just can’t write it off as an energy source because we have nothing to replace the dependability of coal.”
Manchin said in a Feb. 5 committee hearing the nation’s energy reservoirs need to be maintained, to which the coal industry can serve an essential role.
During the same hearing, Manchin tied West Virginia’s 2016 flood, in which 23 people died, and other recent flooding events as evidence of climate change’s impact in West Virginia.
By: Alex Thomas
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