EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSFUTURE OF COAL
from Eyewitness News Online
Congressional Representatives Discuss Future of Coal
Reported by: Katy Brown
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Mar. 8, 2013 9:56 PM EST
Updated: Mar. 8, 2013 10:43 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The future of coal was on the focus of the 40th Annual Coal Symposium, and coal companies and the miners themselves heard a rather optimistic message coming straight from Washington.
"It's wonderful to be back in West Virginia again," said U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.
McKinley is one of three state representatives who took time out of Washington, D.C. to return home and talk about coal.
“Coal is far from dead. It's strongly alive,” said U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. “Yes, we go through these cycles and downturns we often go through, but coal is always going to be with us."
The mining symposium wrapped up Friday with state leaders addressing the future of coal.
Representatives said harsher regulations and policies from the Environmental Protection Agency will affect more than just the coal mines.
“The jobs, the economy, the transportation, the water, the steel, the manufacturing. All the other industries," said U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
“When you blame coal, you're really going after the fabric of our economy,” McKinley said. “What it's going to wind up doing is many of our miners will lose their jobs, electricity is going to increase and our families are going to be faced with higher energy bills."
And, in order to keep up with not only the market but technology, state officials said growth is the only option.
“We can't just keep thinking we can go doing the same old, same old,” Capito said. “We've got to use these new, innovative ways to prolong the life of a very valuable resource."
West Virginia has been a leader in developing safety communications technology. Some of those advancements include something that will help locate and assist miners during emergencies.
Schools like West Virginia University are also investing in new education, such as a sequestration and carbon capture, a move Rahall believes will help the industry keep a dog in this fight.
“That's something we can overcome, and we must overcome and continue to fight the battles we fight,” Rahall said. “King Coal is always going to be King Coal."
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