THE Union of Concerned Scientists and other liberals, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller, were to be in town today to discuss having a sustainable future in West Virginia.
Doubtlessly, forum speakers will discuss a post-coal economy, because West Virginians have discussed a post-coal economy for as long as West Virginia has existed as a state.
West Virginia once had a post-coal economy.
A generation ago, the Kanawha Valley was still a chemical valley if no longer The Chemical Valley.
Glass factories once dotted the state as companies enjoyed the cheap energy from natural gas.
Steel mills, too, set up shop along the Ohio. Most are gone.
West Virginia had industry in the 20th century.
Unfortunately, that industrial plan for a post-coal economy died before coal did, a victim of changing economics, and also state regulations, taxation and litigation.
The very liberals who are in town to discuss a post-coal economy helped run the previous post-coal economy out of the state.
The state now has to come up with a post-post-coal economy.
The sustainability crowd love to push tourism, as if it were something new.
But tourism dates back to 1778, when a woman named Mrs. Anderson went to White Sulphur Springs to take the waters to relieve her chronic rheumatism.
We now call the spot she visited The Greenbrier.
To be sure, tourism took off in the 1990s.
People came from out of state not to raft or ski, but to put their quarters in the machines and play the slots.
Other states caught on and the owners of casinos here are building casinos there. Nothing personal, just business.