¡¡¡¡Editorial: Workers and families should be considered in any type of clean energy bill
¡¡¡¡In early March, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., was the lead sponsor of the The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation¡¯s Future Act, or CLEAN Act.
¡¡¡¡The bill is designed to achieve aggressive goals set by President Joe Biden in reducing carbon output and moving more toward a green energy strategy, away from fossil fuels.
¡¡¡¡However, many power companies and others in the fossil fuels realm are already balking. They¡¯re saying the bill¡¯s requirement to be at 80% clean electricity by 2030 and 100% by 2035 is unreasonable.
¡¡¡¡Companies such as First Energy Corp., which owns Mon Power, whose officials have told U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., they could be at the 80% goal in 2050, but not 2030. McKinley calls Pallone¡¯s bill a strategy that regulates first, but leaves the innovation until later.
¡¡¡¡The Congressman who represents North Central West Virginia said he wants to flip the equation and innovate first and regulate later.
¡¡¡¡As reported Wednesday in the Times West Virginian, McKinley said he has a bill ready to send out if and when Pallone¡¯s bill fails. McKinley believes that if Pallone¡¯s bill dies in the Senate, his bill, House Resolution 1761, should be next in line.
¡¡¡¡Known as the CCUS Innovation Act, McKinley¡¯s bill would focus on carbon capture, what he calls new source review or NSR and carbon capture storage. He also believes his bill can get enough bipartisan support to make it through Congress.
¡¡¡¡Keep in mind, McKinley is no stranger to the fossil fuel industry having accepted $84,750 from the oil and gas industry in 2019-20, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics. His largest donation ¡ª $22,000 ¡ª came from the global company Ergon Inc., which is based in Jackson, Mississippi, and has customers and partner companies in 90 countries around the globe.
¡¡¡¡McKinley firmly believes fossil fuels need to ¡°remain in the mix¡± of any future U.S. energy strategy.
¡¡¡¡We believe that change is coming in the U.S. energy sector and a plan needs to be in place to ensure the West Virginians whose livelihoods depend on fossil fuels are given a seat at the energy table. No one should be made jobless as a result of a piece of federal legislation.
¡¡¡¡McKinley continues to get good rankings from outside groups for being bipartisan. He believes his bipartisan record could help his bill make it through the U.S. Senate if the CLEAN Act fails.
¡¡¡¡Despite which bill ¡ª if any bill ¡ª emerges and gets passed, a transition from fossil fuels needs to transpire. The U.S. needs more solar energy and wind farms.
¡¡¡¡Let¡¯s hope McKinley¡¯s right about his two-party sway.
¡¡¡¡Too many families are relying on jobs connected to oil, gas and coal to simply be overlooked, or even worse, left out altogether.
¡¡¡¡Charleston Gazette-Mail. June 7, 2021.
¡¡¡¡Editorial: Why Justice¡¯s residency matters
¡¡¡¡There were many who cocked a suspicious eyebrow when Gov. Jim Justice finally agreed to live in Charleston as part of a legal settlement.
¡¡¡¡As has been documented time and again, Justice isn¡¯t the best at adhering to or fulfilling court rulings or binding legal resolutions.
¡¡¡¡It would appear, according to a Gazette-Mail report by Joe Severino, along with some basic observation, that Justice is not honoring the settlement, despite a statement from his office claiming the contrary.
¡¡¡¡The agreement over Justice¡¯s residency was reached two months ago. It came nearly three years after former Delegate Isaac Sponaugle filed the complaint, arguing that the governor was violating the state¡¯s constitution by continuing to live at his home in Greenbrier County, a two-hour drive from Charleston.
¡¡¡¡Justice continually downplayed the lawsuit as politically motivated and frivolous; and rhetorically asked why it mattered to anyone where he slept. That argument might have had some merit on the surface, but the lawsuit wasn¡¯t about some technicality. It was about a dereliction of duty and lack of respect for the office to which Justice had been elected.
¡¡¡¡More specifically, it was filed after a legislative session that saw public school teachers in all 55 counties go on strike and swarm the Capitol Complex demanding a fix to their benefits. The strike drew national media attention, and Justice was AWOL. When he did finally show up, he announced a solution and claimed the strike was over. He was painfully uninformed and out of the loop. The strike continued until Justice got up to speed.
¡¡¡¡What Justice fails to understand to this day is that no one would have sued him over his residency if he had shown up and done the job he was elected to do. Any employee in any other field would be let go if they only occasionally did their work, barely understood it and displayed ambivalence toward improvement. The lawsuit was an effort to force a part-time, disinterested governor to accept that the highest office in the state is a full-time commitment. Instead, Justice, always the petulant child when challenged, derided it as political hackery and an obsession over his whereabouts. If only.
¡¡¡¡Recent news reports have again highlighted how Justice still spends much of his time involved with his businesses, which is ethically irresponsible and further evidence that governing the state isn¡¯t at the top of his list of priorities. His constant tardiness to the only briefings he offers on the COVID-19 pandemic show not only that is he not living in Charleston, but he¡¯s not all that bothered by it, still refusing to grasp the lesson.
¡¡¡¡When anyone, let alone the governor, is constantly late, missing or lacking understanding about important issues, it wastes the valuable time of others and keeps the job from getting done. It also displays Justice¡¯s lack of respect for others and a lack of respect for ¡ª or comprehension of ¡ª his own responsibilities.
¡¡¡¡That¡¯s what gets lost in all of the noise about what county Justice¡¯s head is in when it hits the pillow at night.
¡¡¡¡It¡¯s not surprising the governor seems to be violating the terms of his court settlement. It¡¯s still disappointing that he simply doesn¡¯t care.
¡¡¡¡(Huntington) The Herald-Dispatch. June 6, 2021.
¡¡¡¡Editorial: WV ignores coming reality of life with fewer coal-fired power plants
¡¡¡¡The Public Service Commission of West Virginia is considering the fate of the Mitchell Power Plant in Marshall County. In one respect, the PSC will determine how much power customers should pay to keep coal-fired power plants alive.
¡¡¡¡Considering how much West Virginia relies on coal power, that¡¯s a mighty important question.
¡¡¡¡The PSC must decide whether to allow Appalachian Power Co. and Wheeling Power to increase their rates so they can make improvements to the plant¡¯s wastewater treatment system to keep it operating until 2040 or deny that request, effectively forcing the two companies to close the plant in 2028. In short, how much are those 12 years worth to residential, commercial, industrial and other customers?
¡¡¡¡Appalachian Power says it also needs rate increases to cover the costs of upgraded coal combustion residuals systems at the John Amos Power Plant in Putnam County and the Mountaineer Plant in Mason County, but their immediate futures are not in jeopardy the way Mitchell¡¯s is.
¡¡¡¡At stake at Mitchell are 214 jobs and payroll of $26.8 million at the plant. Of course, that doesn¡¯t include other people whose livelihoods rely on the plant, such as people in the construction, transportation and mining industries. It also does not measure what closing the plant would do to the Marshall County tax base and the schools and emergency services that rely on it.
¡¡¡¡Coal has its advantages as a fuel for power generation. It can be stored on site, while gas is not. COVID-19 mitigation measures and the recent blockage of the Suez Canal showed the world what can happen to industries relying on just-in-time deliveries of supplies when supply chains are disrupted. Coal can produce power any time of night or day and in any weather, unlike wind and solar.
¡¡¡¡But coal is one of the more expensive options for generating power, so coal plants often are the last called upon to meet the region¡¯s power needs. Coal also has long-term environmental problems that other power sources don¡¯t.
¡¡¡¡Mitchell is not alone in living on the edge of termination. Other coal-fired plants in a radius of about three hours¡¯ drive from Huntington have shut down, and others are scheduled to be retired in whole or in part before the end of this decade.
¡¡¡¡Is any of this surprising? No. Coal-fired power plants have been on the defensive for years, and trends in the industry indicate that communities that rely on coal plants for jobs and tax revenue had best begin planning for their post-coal futures.
¡¡¡¡Whatever the PSC decides about Mitchell in the short term, in the long term the plant¡¯s future is questionable past 2040. So are other coal-fired plants that are nearing the end of their expected life spans. That¡¯s only 19 years away ¡ª one generation from birth through high school and into adulthood.
¡¡¡¡Many communities and states ¡ª West Virginia in particular ¡ª have not been conscientious about planning for that future. That has to change.
¡¡¡¡SUGGEST A CORRECTION