WV energy summit looks at issues facing coal, gas - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV energy summit looks at issues facing coal, gas, alternative sources

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Several very different stories of West Virginia's energy economy emerged from the Governor's Energy Summit, which took place Dec. 10 in Charleston.

On one hand, West Virginia is fighting to keep its traditional resource — coal — relevant in an increasingly green-minded nation. Then again, the state also is promoting the use of its newly tapped shale gas resource that faces less opposition than coal, but isn't at the point of replacing it.

On the other hand, officials at the summit said there is hope for other alternative and renewable sources down the road. However, the outlook on those sources, at least immediately, was not seen to be reasonable solutions.

Officials at the sixth annual summit, which was arranged by the West Virginia Governor's Office and the West Virginia Department of Commerce, touted the idea of competition between fuel sources, but within the framework of an "all of the above" energy strategy. 

"Anytime we can all come together to share our ideas about how to best tackle the challenges set out before us and forge ahead is always time well spent," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said.

Tomblin thanked the industry, particularly the coal industry, adding that he hoped "we have a cold winter this year" to raise coal prices and increase domestic use.

"I'm from coal country," Tomblin said. "I'm not shy about my support of coal or that of the entire energy industry."

He touted the rise of exports and alternative uses of coal resources. He also used the opportunity to speak out about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has been frequently criticized for its role in the decline of fossil fuel use.

"We're making these advancements in the face of some real challenges," Tomblin said. "I think everyone knows how I feel about he EPA, I've made that very clear."

The governor added that he and the Department of Environmental Protection would remain vigilant over the actions of the EPA.

Tomblin also talked about his efforts to increase natural gas use, including a task force he formed to aid the development of natural gas vehicle infrastructure.

Energy is one of the largest sectors of the West Virginia economy, and taxes paid by the coal industry, and increasingly other energy sources, is a major revenue source for the state.

"We've worked hard to keep our state's financial house in order," Tomblin said. "I believe the hard work is now paying off. We haven't had a general tax increase in West Virginia in nearly 18 years."

Check back for more coverage of the Governor's Energy Summit, including information on energy efficiency, the future of coal, growing natural gas developments, the state energy plan and regulatory impacts on the energy sector.