Manchin’s Message from the Hill to the Mountains: WEST VIRGINIA IS “ALL IN” ON ENERGY INDEPENDEN
Whether it was as your Governor or now as your Senator, I’ve always tried to bring people together around commonsense solutions to our problems. And clearly, one of the greatest problems this nation faces is our lack of a comprehensive energy plan.
To start addressing our energy needs, I invited the two incoming leaders of the important Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee – a Democrat and a Republican – on a tour this week of our great state, where we truly have an “all-of-the-above” energy policy.
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are likely the Ranking Member and incoming Chairperson of the Senate Energy Committee. That means, when the next session of Congress starts in January 2013, one of them will be leading the Senate Energy Committee, where we have important debates about our energy future.
I wanted to bring these leaders from both parties together for this first-of-its-kind trip to see what a balanced energy policy looks like. In our state we’re using coal, natural gas, wind, biomass, hydro – everything we’ve got – to produce energy for this nation, and West Virginia is an example the country should follow.
As you read this, we will have just wrapped up a two-day trip to several regions. We began our energy tour at Mt. Storm, where we visited the coal-fired Mt. Storm power station so my colleagues could see and understand how electricity is safely and responsibly generated from coal. The Mt. Storm Power Station has three units that can generate nearly 1,600 megawatts of electricity – as much in one hour as 160 average homes use in one year.
While West Virginia is best known as a coal state, we are by no means exclusively about coal. I wanted to show Sens. Murkowski and Wyden something we are very proud of in West Virginia: our wind production. We are one of the largest producers of wind power east of the Mississippi River. To demonstrate this, I took my colleagues to the NedPower Mt. Storm Wind Project, which generates up to 264 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve about 66,000 homes and businesses. The project consists of 132 wind turbines along 12 miles of the Alleghany Front.
Following our visit to Mt. Storm, our group traveled to the Mountain Laurel Complex in Sharples to tour some of our state’s coal mining operations as well as mine reclamation sites. We visited both underground and surface mining locations to give Sens. Murkowski and Wyden could see firsthand the processes for extracting coal. In addition, we also did a flyover of a hydropower plant and visited Marcellus Shale extraction sites.
This trip is aimed to demonstrate that if we use everything we’ve got in America – just like we’re doing in West Virginia – we can create good-paying jobs and move this country toward energy independence.
And while Democrats and Republicans might not agree on everything, we can agree to come together to strike the right balance between protecting good-paying jobs, making sure we have clean air and clean water and truly developing a comprehensive energy plan for this nation. I look forward to continuing my work with both Senators Murkowski and Wyden so we can truly move this nation forward.