CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia is an energy battleground state. As the nation and world face increasing consequences of greenhouse-gas-related climate change, pollution-related health impairment, and ecosystem destruction, calls for the end of coal-related power generation will mount.
West Virginia simply must face the fact that it cannot play all its marbles on coal, and step into the future of clean, affordable, efficient energy.
Is such a future realistic? Or must we rely upon coal to "keep the lights on" and keep West Virginians working? Must we imperil our health and blight our state's natural wonder through mountaintop mining? Is there a workable road map that is not propped up by interminable massive taxpayer subsidies?
The good news is that there is such a road map. The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch and Christians for the Mountains joined the Civil Society Institute in releasing a major new report that outlines a realistic and affordable path to a cleaner and less expensive energy future.
Yes, you read that right. A clean energy future can be a more affordable future for West Virginia and nation.
The United States always has been less than focused on market-driven principles with respect to energy policy. All levels of government have sought, for instance, to shift financial and operational risks of nuclear and coal plants from private industry to the ratepayer and taxpayer. This also goes for oil and natural gas drilling. Renewables and energy efficiency technology have received some taxpayer and ratepayer largesse, but the amount pales in comparison to the historical bias toward fossil fuels and nuclear power.
How do we get beyond this unproductive pattern?