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The Chair's Corner: Manchin coal plans leave questions
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by Jim Sconyers, Chapter Chair | 2009

Joe Manchin's plan is for West Virginia coal is for the coal industry not the coal field communities.

Gov. Manchin continues to see his job to be Big Coal’s cheerleader-in-chief. This time he’s beating the drum wildly for a plan to locate a coal-to-liquid plant in Mingo County. Coal-to-liquid is a process to manufacture liquid vehicle fuel from coal.

What’s not to like about a plant for Mingo County, courtesy of Adam Victor of New York City? Here are some nagging questions that need to be answered before we fall all over ourselves with giveaways:

Why were Victor and his TransGas Development rejected by New York City, but welcomed with open arms in West Virginia? Could it be because of our more lax regulatory environment?

Why does a self-avowed multimillionaire, Adam Victor, and his company need nearly $1 billion from the West Virginia taxpayers? And why do those taxpayers need to give him this massive tax credit?

Do we want to destroy more of the Southern West Virginia mountains and communities with the devastating mountaintop removal coal mining that will be needed to feed Victor’s proposed plant?

Are we really so irresponsible as stewards of our planet that we want to make the growing climate crisis immeasurably worse? Refining coal to gasoline emits tons and tons of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas responsible for global climate change, even before a single gallon is burned in our cars and trucks.

Don’t we all want to get on the “clean coal” bandwagon touted by the likes of Joe Manchin, Don Blankenship, and Bill Raney? Then why is Victor planning an operation that does not include capture and storage of carbon dioxide, except as a pie-in-the-sky afterthought - something that might, or might not, become available in some far off future, long after his plant has churned out vast amounts of CO2 into our atmosphere, where there’s already much too much of it?

Coal-based gasoline is even dirtier than regular gasoline. Is this “the brightest Christmas present” (Governor Manchin’s words) that West Virginia can give the nation?

Where will the massive amounts of water required for the plant come from, and what are the consequences for streams and underground aquifers?

When will our leaders lead, guiding the state to a better economic future of diversified industry and employment opportunity, rather than continuing to put all our eggs in the coal basket? And when will they wake up to the reality that the future of coal is quickly drawing to a close as economically recoverable reserves are dwindling?

In the 21st century, nobody should be promoting energy projects that are not “clean.”

I’m afraid Mr. Victor’s plant would be just one more unclean source of the carbon pollution that we all know must be ended.

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