We are witnessing a variation of the Green New Deal playing out before us in our nations’ Capitol and U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito are working tirelessly to defend the energy industries that employ tens of thousands of West Virginians and support our state’s entire economy.
The egregious amendments insisted by President Biden and Congressional Leaders Schumer and Pelosi with help from their supporting cast of Senator Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others in the ongoing Budget Reconciliation package debate are in reality “the Green New Deal”. Their proposals feature a Clean Energy Standard which imposes an 80 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and a Clean Energy Payment Program (or utility buy-out plan) which rewards electric utilities for annual carbon reductions and penalizes them when they fall short, as well as endless and expansive incentives for wind and solar energy production.
Carbon taxes have also emerged to attempt a last-minute agreement and there are myriad other fossil energy job-killing provisions found in pending amendments sought by these extreme political forces.
The essence of today’s argument is whether adequate time will be afforded to allow for science, technology, commercialization, and industrial application to precede stringent and dramatic carbon reduction mandates. If implemented, these carbon reduction technologies allow states like West Virginia, with functioning fossil energy assets and a strong industrial base, to continue working and providing paychecks to our families, while also contributing baseload, resilient power to fuel America’s energy needs.
The fossil energy industries do not argue whether climate change is occurring nor the need to employ proven, cost-effective carbon control technologies and measures. Like Senator Manchin says, we should “innovate, not eliminate”. It makes little sense to eliminate our jobs and ratchet down our economy while world carbon emissions increase.
It is worth mentioning that China and India use 7-8 times more coal to generate electricity than what is used in the United States. China alone has more coal plants under construction today than the total number of plants remaining in the United States.
There is no question the United States, for decades, has demonstrated leadership on implementing carbon reduction strategies and the climate issue. As just one example, the U.S. has led in the design and operation of a modern, fully compliant coal-fired electric generation fleet. Unfortunately, countries like China and India have not followed suit and release raw combustion, smoke, and, yes, significant amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
They signal no intention to follow our lead and why would they? Doing so would irreparably harm their economy while providing an advantage to the U.S.
While there is certainly a role for intermittent energy sources like wind and solar in supporting our country’s energy needs, they should stand on their own merits. The success of these energy operations should not be predicated on tax-payer subsidized support or contingent upon coal’s demise. They should be compelled to stand alone and compete without subsidies.
Today, we are witnessing countries around the world that have insisted on a higher than practical level of intermittent energy to suddenly reach out to West Virginia for coal. And, major energy shortages and disruptions are predicted this winter, due in part, to these countries lack of fossil fuel-based electric generation.
It is my opinion that we should never trade one energy job for another, nor should we yield to government forces coercing West Virginia to do so. We are better, and much smarter, than that.
Supporters of the Green New Deal and companion amendments call for the immediate elimination of coal mining and coal usage. They deny any value or benefit to the approximately $13.9 billion in economic impact the coal mining and coal-fired electric power generation industries provide to West Virginia, or the workers the industry employs. They also deny the critical importance of fossil energy to assuring uninterrupted power supplies, grid stability and resiliency, and overall energy security.
They, in essence, want to eliminate, not innovate.
We are convinced that with a little ingenuity and by working together we will not only solve the carbon issue and consequently, the climate issue, but we believe it can be done in such a way to continue using all of our natural resources to make steel, develop innovative carbon-based products, and to stabilize our dependence on household electricity. This approach is at the core of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s call to “innovate not eliminate.”
We anticipate that West Virginia will demonstrate to the world that it is possible to have a world class energy sector that provides jobs, low-cost energy and is a model for employing carbon reduction technologies.
Senator Manchin and Senator Capito deserve our thanks as they work under intense pressure to protect West Virginia’s economy. Their leadership and heroic crusade for reason and commonsense energy and climate policies are appreciated. For the sake of all West Virginians, we hope they are successful.