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West Virginia needs to rethink its energy

It's perplexing to see our lawmakers' incoherent approach to the state's five-year energy plan is merely to "advocate retention of coal-fired electricity to ensure the continuation of affordable energy."

Rather than more talking points based on wishful thinking, our state needs a real, reality-based energy plan from our lawmakers.

Because the uncomfortable writing is on the wall for all who are willing to see: West Virginia coal production is set to decline by almost a third by the end of this decade.

We're raiding our rainy day fund due to falling mineral revenue, electricity rates continue to rise by over 50 percent due to high coal costs, and out-of-state coal is so much cheaper that the Mountain State imports it.

Whether our lawmakers are simply deer in the headlights or they willfully have their heads in the sand, it's time for them to wake up to the physical fact of coal production's decline, and then get to work securing an actual future here for our children:

Diversify the economy; set up a mineral severance trust fund before it's too late just as other extraction states have wisely and successfully done; and invest in energy efficiency to protect ourselves from the constantly rising price of electricity.

That's a fact-based plan, not a wishful talking point.

Walton C. Shepherd



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