WV residents weigh in on future of coal and energy options

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MONTGOMERY, WV (WOWK) — A poll on the Mountain State’s energy economy was conducted by Research America between June 21st and July 2nd with 400 registered voters in West Virginia.

“The biggest indication right now from the poll is that West Virginians are proud of their energy heritage, but they’re also seeing that there are changes in the energy economy happening,” Thomas Minney, West Virginia Nature Conservancy said.

“I just know that the more coal we run, the more we put out, the better off the families are. It helps the community. It keeps people working,” Scott Williams, a coal miner said.

The poll found 70% of coal country respondents said the most important thing elected officials can do to help their communities is job creation. Another 14% said elected officials should support the coal industry, and 12% said lawmakers should invest in other clean energy resources such as solar or wind.

“It’s not flat land. It’s not somewhere where you can bring in agriculture like you can from Kansas or Iowa. It’s not the Midwest where the wind blows all the time. You can’t put in these big windmills. It’s Appalachia and these are the resources that we have here, and it’s coal,” Mark Morris, a coal miner said.

“The past several years renewable and other energy sources have become competitive with coal,” Minney said.

Coal miners say they are using new techniques that are safer for the environment.

“Environmentally safety-wise, we don’t want to hurt the environment. We do everything we can to not contaminate,” Williams said.

The coal industry means more to West Virginians than just a job. Coal miners in Montgomery say it is a way of life passed down from generation to generation, a way to support their community, and sustain jobs for the state.

“Coal mining is a way of life. It’s a group, it’s a bond, and it’s hard for these guys that aren’t from around here to understand what these guys and gals do every day at the mine. What they do, what they do for this community, and what they do for this state,” Morris said.

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