"He started out great, talking about preparing for our future, but then he totally ignored talking about a West Virginia future without coal," said Don Garvin, lead lobbyist for the West Virginia Environmental Council.
Tomblin has refused requests that he form a special commission to plan a coalfield transition, and has declined to support proposals from various groups and Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, for some sort of a "future fund" that would use coal and gas taxes for education, infrastructure and economic development programs.
"West Virginia needs to invest in transitioning our economy by ensuring that we use our rich natural resources to create sustainable wealth that is reinvested in our people," said Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy.
Tomblin talked about last June's derecho, calling it "storm like no other we'd ever experienced before," but did not mention climate change and its links to increasing incidents of "extreme weather" in the state or around the world.
The governor mentioned briefly that his plan for state budget cuts "does not take money away from mine safety programs." But environmental groups noted that Tomblin made no such promise regarding the state Department of Environmental Protection, an agency that has struggled with a shortage of natural gas inspectors and a long-standing need staffing problem in its strip-mine enforcement program.
The governor praised West Virginia's coal miners, saying their dedication "is the work that built our state and the work that sustains it."
But he didn't mention that two miners have been killed on the job in the last week, while a third remained in critical condition Wednesday night after an accident the prior evening. Tomblin made no mention of a series of failures by his administration to implement key portions of last year's mine safety legislation.
"The governor is absolutely right that the work of miners built our state and sustains us, but the absence of real meaningful change on mine safety and health is a failure of the Legislature and the executive," said Davitt McAteer, a longtime mine safety advocate who led an independent team that investigated the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.
On natural gas issues, Dave McMahon, a lawyer with the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization, said his group would like to see more discussion of expanding the state's new drilling law to provide more protections to surface landowners -- something the state Supreme Court recently suggested might be needed.
"We hope this new Legislature does not weaken, and may even strengthen, the DEP's proposed rule carrying out the governor's Marcellus Shale bill passed in 2011," McMahon said.
Tomblin also did not mention the push for stronger state efforts to improve energy efficiency, an issue that's getting more attention nationally with President Obama's call in his State of the Union address to cut in half the energy wasted by homes and businesses.
"West Virginia certainly lags behind the rest of the country in energy efficiency," said Cathy Kunkel of the group Energy Efficient West Virginia. Energy efficiency efforts will lower utility bills, Kunkel said, "and also create more jobs per dollar than investments in the traditional electric and natural gas utility sectors."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.