Below and attached is a "Major Opinion Piece" by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, entitled, "Our Greatest Resource."
"Our Greatest Resource"
U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.
The recent explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in my home county of Raleigh, which killed 29 West Virginians and injured 2 others, has brought West Virginia statewide sorrow and worldwide attention.
Reflecting on President John F. Kennedy's death, Robert F. Kennedy once said, "A tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom."
As we seek to understand how and why the Upper Big Branch disaster occurred, we might also re-examine conventional wisdom about the future of the coal industry in our state.
Americans depend mightily on our coal to meet their energy needs. Coal is the major source of electricity in 32 states, and produces roughly half of all the electricity consumed in the United States.
As West Virginians, our birthright is coal. The ancient fossil is abundant here, and is as emblematic of our heritage and cultural identity as the black bear, the cardinal, and the rhododendron.