CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said he doesn't think the Obama administration's anti-coal stance is going to change.
Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin were among the more than dozen speakers who addressed the 6th annual Governor's Energy Summit on Monday at the Marriott.
"People ask me, aren't I happy that Lisa Jackson will be replaced?" Manchin said, referring to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (The Washington Post reported last month that Jackson will leave the Obama administration soon).
"Carol Browner brought this whole philosophy to the White House," Manchin said, referring to former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy. "She's gone and it didn't change. I don't think it'll change. They're committed to where they are."
The West Virginia Democrat told more than 200 business leaders that he believes the Senate Energy Committee will develop a "balanced, reasonable" energy bill and "we'll fight to get it to the Senate floor." He predicted the bill will get through the Republican-controlled House and "it will be difficult for the administration to veto it."
As for the so-called "fiscal cliff" -- federal budget cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1 if Congress and the Obama Administration don't act -- Manchin said, "I've been there two years and I've never seen anything like this. I've got to apologize.
"It's all about money," he said. "I can say something and if someone takes offense, someone could launch a $5 million campaign against me tomorrow. These (Congressional leaders) are accomplished people but they've been beat up so much."
Manchin said he's "all in on the Bowles-Simpson plan," the deficit reduction plan proposed but ignored last year. "There are about 30 or 40 of us (in the Senate) that would vote on it tomorrow. And we'd get beaten up. But it's the only thing I've seen. The people need confidence that the government can govern."
Tomblin said, "I believe we have more opportunities than we have challenges in West Virginia."
The governor said his belief that the state is on the right track was renewed last week when he learned of a Doddridge County family that has a natural gas processing plant on what had been a cow pasture.
"They've demonstrated what great things can happen when we work in partnership," Tomblin said.
Other summit highlights:
* Steve Hedrick, head of Bayer CropScience's Institute Industrial Park, said, "We need to be predictable in an unpredictable world. Being predictable requires sound energy policies. We need a comprehensive approach. It's not a choice -- we need an 'all-of-the-above' energy policy. For far too long it's been given little more than lip service."
* Tom Witt, retired director of West Virginia University's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said, "We think one of the big opportunities (for coal) will be in continuing to make inroads in export markets."
Witt said the budget cuts that will go into effect in January if Congress and the Obama administration don't act "would have a fairly significant impact on the National Energy Technology Laboratory" in Morgantown.
* Cal Kent, former vice president of business and economic research at Marshall University, said that over the next five years, none of the renewable energy sources is likely to provide electricity at a lower cost than traditional sources. "A transition from current fuels to renewables will require either government subsidies, renewable fuel standards or higher rates," he said.
Kent said there is "considerable potential" in West Virginia for development of wood biomass. Also, "the cost and benefits of using bio-diesel in school buses should be investigated. There's an argument we should switch the fleet to natural gas instead but we should look at bio-diesel."