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Now is the time.

If West Virginia wants to capitalize on its abundance of coal, its proximity to the eastern seaboard and its leadership capabilities when it comes to creating clean coal technologies, it needs to do so within the next decade, or sooner, said U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Otherwise, the state and nation have a long, uphill battle when it comes to addressing the country's energy crisis.

Herald Dispatch

Now is the time.

If West Virginia wants to capitalize on its abundance of coal, its proximity to the eastern seaboard and its leadership capabilities when it comes to creating clean coal technologies, it needs to do so within the next decade, or sooner, said U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Otherwise, the state and nation have a long, uphill battle when it comes to addressing the country's energy crisis.

But there are many factors that need to be considered if it's to do that, and those were highlighted Tuesday at an energy forum in Charleston, sponsored by the West Virginia Coal Forum and Marshall University.

Imagine West Virginia, a nonpartisan think tank, issued its first report this year and discussed its recommendations regarding coal. The report is titled "Coal: Energy, The Environment and West Virginia," and includes proposed policy recommendations for the future of coal.

Capito joined Gov. Joe Manchin, Marshall University President Stephen Kopp and representatives of the coal industry at the event. U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., had videotaped some remarks for the forum, which took place at the Embassy Suites hotel.

"Families are making choices about putting gas in their tanks or filling up their refrigerator," Rockefeller said. "These are serious problems that demand serious answers."

He proposed a future fuels corporation, government funded but corporately run, to develop production of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.
Rockefeller's emphasis on the importance of clean coal was echoed in the policy recommendations of Imagine West Virginia in its report. They include strengthening coal-related research in West Virginia, promoting expertise in mining safety and remediation of the effects of mining on land and water. Others were training tomorrow's coal-related workforce, fostering new coal-related enterprises and strengthening regional collaboration and more.
West Virginia coal provides more than 50 percent of America's electricity and nearly all of West Virginia's, The Coal Forum reports. The industry in the state employs more than 20,000 people, and the average salary is $50,000.

Energy is the hot topic of the day in West Virginia and in Washington, Capito said, and, "As we look at the national level, we have to face it.
"Our dependence on foreign oil is an important issue from an economic and security standpoint," she said. "A lot of (the world's oil providers) are not our friends."

She stressed the need for a national energy policy, the need to diversify when it comes to coal and renewable energies, and said there's no better time for change than right after a presidential election. Capito added that she has confidence in West Virginia's universities that research can be developed to make the state a leader in extracting coal "the right way and the most technologically advanced way."

Marshall University already has projects under way. The university has received $4 million -- half from the Economic Development Administration and half from state and private funds -- to look at mine safety technology innovation, said Tony Szwilski, director of Marshall's Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS).

The title of the project is Mine Safety Technology Innovation Capability and Regional Business Development for the U.S. Mining Industry.
Components of the project are creating an incubator to invest in developing new technologies, and incorporating new technologies into safety technology training.

"If anybody has an idea, if a company has an idea, we will work with them," Szwilski said. "The project is largely enhancing safety and developing new technologies ... to become a world leader and so that these technologies will be manufactured in West Virginia."

It also involves a component of bringing mine-scarred lands back to productive use, Szwilski said.

He is co-chair of a Mine Safety Technology Consortium, which has 17 members, including stakeholders in the coal industry and federal and state government. The office is based in Montgomery, W.Va.

Meanwhile, Marshall's College of Information Technology and Engineering has had a graduate mine safety program at an academy in Beckley for 27 years.
"We deliver graduate courses to mine inspectors and also members of the coal industry," Szwilski said. "It's a very popular program for mine inspectors across the United States."

Manchin also pointed to a recently announced $800 million investment in Marshall County for a coal-to-liquid plant as a demonstration of West Virginia's leadership capabilities in coal advancements.

"I've had the chance to travel and have seen the appetite -- especially China," he said. "Coal is here to stay.

"There will be more demand for coal around the world than ever before. ...We've heard speakers, economists from around the world who would be totally against mining coal say, 'We will be using coal for the next 30 years.' ... I've had other countries come to West Virginia and say, 'We're going to fossil -- can you supply the coal we need?' "

At the same time, West Virginia should be aware that some countries are turning toward renewable energy sources, said Allan Tweddle, a member of the West Virginia Public Energy Authority. He cited South Africa and Vancouver, Canada, as examples, and pointed out that while coal's price tag is going up, the costs of wind and solar power are coming down.

He added that coal sequestration could be very complicated and bring on some legal issues, as well as raising the price of coal production even more.

"As a member of the Public Energy Authority, I say we must have a diverse energy policy and make sure we're not solely dependent on coal fired power," he said.

West Virginia has the opportunity to become a worldwide leader in energy production and technology, according to Gov. Joe Manchin.

“The opportunity and desire are here for West Virginia to lead in the development of coal technologies, mining safety and environmental stewardship as well as continuing to be a leader in the production of coal,” Manchin said during Tuesday’s Coal Forum.


Beckley Register Herald

West Virginia has the opportunity to become a worldwide leader in energy production and technology, according to Gov. Joe Manchin.

“

The opportunity and desire are here for West Virginia to lead in the development of coal technologies, mining safety and environmental stewardship as well as continuing to be a leader in the production of coal,” Manchin said during Tuesday’s Coal Forum.

“

Why shouldn’t our universities be the research engines? If we do it right, West Virginia will be a world leader in energy.”

Manchin was one of many speakers to discuss and debate the state’s energy future.

“

Our nation must declare energy independence from foreign oil,” Manchin said. “I believe by 2030 that West Virginia can be totally energy independent.”



Steve Walker of Walker Machinery said energy is on the minds of all Americans.

“

The current energy crisis is affecting all Americans and our energy policy in this nation right now is no policy,” he said. “It’s eaten up with politics, and, in my opinion, it’s not good for West Virginia or the citizens of this country.”



Coal makes up about 50 percent of the nation’s mass electric generation, and that percentage is expected to increase to 58 percent in the next 10 years if nothing is done, according to the governor.

“

A national policy that put 100 percent into renewable sources of energy and nothing into its main base, which is coal, is not a realistic way to solve the nation and world’s energy crisis,” Manchin said.



In addition to Manchin, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito also offered remarks to those attending the forum.

“

Congress is a huge obstruction in the national energy portfolio and I’m working hard to remove that obstruction,” Capito said.



Marshall University and the West Virginia Coal Forum sponsored the meeting at which recommendations on the state’s energy future were unveiled.

“

The purpose of the event is to expose civic, legislative and opinion leaders in the state to Imagine West Virginia’s policy recommendations and to facilitate discussion on coal’s role in our state and nation’s energy strategy,” said Chris Hamilton, co-chairman of the West Virginia Coal Forum.



The report offered an ambitious set of 10 recommendations ranging from increasing the amount of coal industry-related classes in schools to more money for research. Beyond that, the report offered little in the way of specifics.

Rick Remish, executive director of Imagine West Virginia, said the costs associated with the report’s recommendations will be estimated by a recently formed task force charged with following through on the goals.

“

I don’t have an exact dollar figure, but that is obviously a critical question,” Remish said.

One more detailed recommendation by the group suggests redirection of federal research dollars. More than 80 percent of federal funding for coal research has gone toward “downstream” matters like carbon sequestration, while .2 percent of the funding has gone to mining research and 1.8 percent has gone to environmental reclamation.



The report — and speakers including Manchin and Capito — argues that such research is needed because coal will remain the major component of American energy for the foreseeable future.



Not everyone at the conference believes the future is so bright.



Allan Tweddle, a member of the state Public Energy Authority, said the report should have taken more account of external economic pressures, such as countries like Canada and Germany moving away from coal use.



Tweddle said the medium-range economic picture for coal is complicated, citing estimates that so-called clean coal technology may cause the price of coal to rise.

“The cost of wind power and solar power is coming down, constantly,” he said.



Imagine West Virginia is affiliated with the statewide nonprofit group Vision Shared.



Hamilton says the recommendations focus on what it will take to make West Virginia a global leader in technologically advanced, environmentally responsible coal production.

“

The recommendations are a thoughtful blueprint for West Virginia to follow in developing our own energy strategies,” he said.



Remish said Imagine West Virginia believes that during the time it will take the world to develop and fully deploy renewable energy sources, coal will continue to be a major source of energy both in the U.S. and internationally.

“

Advanced research and development aimed at producing environmentally acceptable, safer and more efficient mining and uses of coal must be accelerated,” he said. “This achievement would bring significant economic, societal and environmental benefits to the state and the nation.”

On behalf of the West Virginia Coal Forum and Marshall University, we would like to extend an invitation to you to attend an energy forum to be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Charleston, West Virginia.  There is no fee to attend.

The purpose of this forum is to expose civic, legislative and opinion leaders in West Virginia to Imagine West Virginia’s “Coal:  Energy, The Environment & West Virginia Policy Recommendations” and to facilitate discussion on coal’s role in our state and nation’s energy strategy. 

 

On behalf of the West Virginia Coal Forum and Marshall University, we would like to extend an invitation to you to attend an energy forum to be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Charleston, West Virginia.  There is no fee to attend.

The purpose of this forum is to expose civic, legislative and opinion leaders in West Virginia to Imagine West Virginia’s “Coal:  Energy, The Environment & West Virginia Policy Recommendations” and to facilitate discussion on coal’s role in our state and nation’s energy strategy.  

Speakers include: West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Senator John D. Rockefeller (taped remarks). Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp and representatives from Imagine West Virginia and individuals representing various segments of West Virginia’s energy economy.

The event will include three parts, which include:
 
Comments by elected officials;
Presentation by Imagine West Virginia outlining their study recommendations;
Panel discussion on the Imagine West Virginia report and coal’s position in state and national energy policy.

You can learn more about Imagine West Virginia and their report at www.imaginewestvirginia.com .

Please RSVP by emailing your name and organization name to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday, August 15, 2008.  

We appreciate your consideration and hope to see you on August 19.

Respectfully,

Joel Watts
Administrator
WV Coal Forum

Fred Tucker                                Chris Hamilton
Co-Chairman, WV Coal Forum        Co-Chairman, WV Coal Forum
United Mine Workers of America     West Virginia Coal Association

New transmission lines will do more than just improve the reliability of our electric grid. They are badly needed to transport new sources of renewable energy to customers in our towns and cities, according to industry experts.

Please take a moment to read “Lack of new power lines threatens renewable growth,” published by Reuters News following the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York on June 18-19. Below are excerpts from the article:

"While companies scramble to drive down the price of power produced by sun and wind, many say a dearth of transmission lines in remote areas ideal for wind farms and solar plants is a bigger impediment than cost to spurring U.S. growth of renewable energy."

"Building lines to channel that clean electricity to urban areas will be no small task, and renewable energy executives at a conference in New York this week warned that many planned solar and wind projects may never see the light of day if policymakers do not expand power grids to accommodate them."

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1440866486912226624

A radio that can send a clear voice signal at least 11,600 feet into an underground coal mine may never get beyond the prototype stage because its developers say the market for it is too small.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: June 23, 2006-- A radio that can send a clear voice signal at least 11,600 feet into an underground coal mine may never get beyond the prototype stage because its developers say the market for it is too small.

Coal production has increased steadily since World War II, but modern technology and a shift to surface mining allows companies to mine more coal with fewer employees at fewer mines. The decline in miners and underground mines has shrunk the market for mine safety devices.

Patrick Murphy, spokesman for Kutta Consulting of Phoenix, said the relatively small market makes it hard for companies to recoup the cost of developing equipment that meets federal standards for use in underground mines. "The road is littered with attempts at doing that within the industry," he said.

Kutta has an Army contract for a radio to help troops maintain contact with their command centers as they move through basements, subways and other underground urban structures. When the federal government began looking for better mine communications devices after the Jan. 2 Sago Mine disaster in Upshur County, W.Va., Kutta offered its prototype for evaluation. The radio's broadcast reached at least twice as far as any other system tested, but Kutta can't afford to spend any more money that doesn't focus on its commitment to the Army, he said.

"We've kind of run out of budget to do any more field tests," Murphy said. One of the Sago miners was killed by a methane explosion. Eleven slowly asphyxiated while awaiting rescue. One man survived. The explosion disabled the mine's wire-based phone system, leaving miners with no contact with rescuers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health tested the Kutta system and four others from March 28 to April 27 at Consol Energy's McElroy Mine near Moundsville, W.Va. The other systems reached 500 to 2,000 feet inside the mine; the Kutta system broadcast the entire length of the 5,000-foot test area, said Jeff Welsh, deputy director for the institute's Pittsburgh laboratory.

"We were still getting good voice communications at 5,000 feet," he said.

In a May 31 test at Consol's Enlow Fork Mine in Greene County, the Kutta signal again traveled the entire length of the test area -- this time, 11,600 feet. The agency also tested one system by Transtek Inc. of Plum that is designed to transmit directly from the surface through the earth. Transtek's system delivered a good voice signal through 270 feet of earth.

"There are some mines that are in that range, but there are mines that are up to 2,000 feet (deep)," Welsh said.

Transtek spokesman Bob Nigrini said the company is modifying the equipment and plans to run tests at 500 and 1,200 feet. The technology theoretically can transmit through at least 2,000 feet of earth, but the company has to find the right configuration. "We've got to change the frequency we're operating at, in addition to changing the size of the cables," he said.

Article by: Brian Bowling
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