By George Hohmann

The Charleston Daily Mail Business Editor

ROANOKE - The senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association said that if energy independence and national security are at the apex of the nation's energy agenda, "we think positive things will follow.

"But when you start with items such as cap-and-trade legislation, expanding the energy portfolio to unrealistic quantities and focusing on climate change, all that follows will be negative and restrictive for coal and your basic industries."

Charleston Gazette - Op/Ed by Roger Nicholson - November 30, 2009

The Gazette's coverage of the meeting between Gov. Manchin and other governmental leaders and some coal industry officials on Nov. 10 was noteworthy in a couple of respects.

First, anti-mining activist Judy Bonds candidly revealed the true extreme agenda of groups like the Sierra Club and the Coal River Mountain Watch. Bonds expressly stated the desire for a complete federal takeover of our state government, when she said, "the federal government needs to come in and take over the state of West Virginia, all the way from the governor to the dog catcher."

It is rare indeed when anti-mining advocates reveal their true aims, and Bonds' candid comment is quite telling. Unfortunately, most of the pronouncements from anti-mining groups twist the facts and weave tales designed to lure high-profile liberal foundations and Hollywood stars to join their single-minded pursuit.

Oft-repeated myths propounded by these groups include:

·  Claims that neither they nor the Obama EPA seek to ban underground mining. In truth, the EPA has targeted 79 permits for "enhanced review" and potential veto, including deep-mining related permits. Moreover, environmental activists are stridently contesting a deep-mining permit in Northern West Virginia that would create 300 new jobs.

·  Claims that wind projects can effectively replace coal mining jobs. To the contrary, each surface mining operation will typically employ more than 100 people for several years at wages exceeding $60,000 annually with excellent benefit packages. Wind projects involve short-term construction work followed by a handful of maintenance workers.

·  Claims that coal currently being surface-mined can be mined by underground methods instead. One need only read Gene Kitts' excellent post, "Why We Surface Mine" on the Coal Tattoo blog (link online: ), to understand the economic foundation for surface mining.

The other interesting point from the Gazette's coverage was Congressman Nick Rahall's continued insistence that Obama's EPA is just "doing its job." EPA's actions (and inaction) belie Rep. Rahall's stubbornly held view.

Consider the following:

·  In the spring of 2009, the EPA publicly stated that there was no moratorium on the issuance of Section 404 permits generally necessary for both surface- and deep-mining operations. Since that announcement, a grand total of two individual permits have been issued by the Army Corps of Engineers in West Virginia. The EPA may not call this a moratorium, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... well, you know the rest.

·  In June 2009, EPA announced the framework for a new "enhanced review" of existing permit applications and promised timely review. Since then, as of Nov. 9, enhanced review has begun on only five of the 79 permits.

At that rate, it will take years for affected coal producers to receive feedback on their permits.

·  EPA is attempting to revoke a long-issued Arch Coal permit for an active surface-mining operation. That permit underwent a multi-year environmental impact study, which EPA then accepted, but the government now seeks to renege on its prior approval.

·  EPA's "job" appears to be implementing the goals of the Pelosi and Reid wing of the Democratic Party to end mining and consumption of coal.

Any business, particularly a capital-intensive one, needs to know the rules and have the assurance that those rules won't change day-to-day. Ken Ward says there's no permitting crisis; he's wrong. Just because the large publicly traded companies have been able to adjust their business plans to avoid major disruptions doesn't mean a crisis does not exist. Ask the smaller independent operators, who typically have no choice but to shut down when their next permit is blocked, if there's a crisis in the coalfields.

If a bridge is out, you don't drive full-speed in the hope that the bridge will be there when you arrive. The bridge is out. Those of us who rely on the coal industry for our livelihoods, our electricity and our quality of life should demand that our government agencies and our elected officials heed our concerns.

BECKLEY -- The Exhibition Coal Mine will present the annual "Appalachian Coal Town Christmas."

It is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 4 and Saturday, Dec. 5.

The Coal Mine has been transformed into an old town Christmas setting. The festival will consist of traditional decorations in the coal camp houses and church.

There will be Christmas caroling, food vendors and a visit from Santa Claus.

Visitors can also head underground for a Christmas themed coal mine tour.

"It is absolutely beautiful and you can't imagine until you come and see it yourself. It's just lit with different color lights," said Renda Morris, organizer of the festival.

The Exhibition Coal Mine will be open each Friday and Saturday through the Dec. 19 from 5 to 9 p.m..

(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Thompson, and Delegate Armstead)

[By Request of the Executive]

[Introduced November 19, 2009] 

Expressing the will of the House of Delegates to continue its support of the West Virginia coal industry and requesting that West Virginia's congressional delegation resist and oppose efforts to undermine the future of West Virginia coal.

Whereas, The coal industry provides salaries and benefits to thousands of West Virginians; and 
Whereas, The coal industry is responsible for millions of dollars of tax revenues that are used to fund important government services and programs; and 
Whereas, The coal industry is vitally important to the economic welfare of this State and its citizens; and 
Whereas, The Legislature, with the leadership and support of the Governor, has worked to enact legislation to ensure the future of West Virginia coal, including the adoption of sweeping coal mine safety reforms, planning requirements for post-mining land use, an alternative and renewable energy portfolio featuring clean coal technology, and a regulatory framework for carbon capture and sequestration projects; and 
Whereas, Recent events at the federal level, most notably the debate over "cap and trade" legislation in Congress and obscure regulatory actions by the Environmental Protection Agency, are casting a shadow of doubt and uncertainty over the future of the coal industry in West Virginia; and 
Whereas, For the sake of those individuals who depend upon coal to support themselves and their families, the House of Delegates, the Senate, the Governor and West Virginia's congressional delegation must work together to secure the future of the coal industry, and with it the future of the State; therefore, be it 
Resolved by the House of Delegates: 
That the West Virginia House of Delegates will continue to support the West Virginia coal industry by encouraging measures that protect miners and their families, provide incentives for the development of advanced coal technologies, enhance the energy independence of the State and the nation, protect the environment from which coal is mined, and supply consumers with cleaner and more affordable energy produced from coal; and, be it 
Further Resolved, That the West Virginia House of Delegates requests that West Virginia's congressional delegation resist and oppose efforts at the federal level to undermine the future of West Virginia's coal industry; and, be it  
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates forward a certified copy of this resolution to United States Senators Robert C. Byrd and John D. Rockefeller IV and Representatives Nick J. Rahall, Alan B. Mollohan and Shelley M. Capito.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin will lead a panel discussion on the impact that federal energy legislation has on Southern states Friday during the national meeting of The Council of State Governments in La Quinta, Calif.

More than 600 state policy makers and guests from around the country will be attending CSG’s annual meeting Thursday through Saturday. Manchin is the organizations 2009 president.

The session, “Securing the South’s Energy Future”, will also feature Kentucky State Rep. Rocky Adkins; Kenneth J. Nemeth, secretary and executive director of the Southern States Energy Board; Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association and Rodney Andrews, director of the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research.

The focus of the session will be the future role fossil fuels and renewable energy sources will play in southern states. Other topics will include cellulosic ethanol production, lithium-ion batteries and coal-to-liquid technology.

The panel discussion will be one of more than 30 policy-related workshops and panels that will be held during the three-day CSG meeting on topics ranging from health care reform to education. For more information on this sessions and the others visit



The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.