Do not look to past
Recently, this newspaper used the “Our Opinion” column of the editorial page to commend U.S. Rep. David McKinley for being involved in the inclusion of the “45Q tax credit aimed at developing and deploying carbon capture technology” in the 2-year Congressional budget. The following day, this column complained mightily about a report on the coal industry issued by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Apparently, the editor’s opinion is that our region’s economy can be improved by looking to the past rather than to the future.
I have seen a coal company ad from 1920 that described “clean coal.” This referred to the washing of the coal to remove loose coal dust so that it would be cleaner to bring inside. Over the years, “clean coal” has morphed into the suggestion that something can be done to coal to make it emit less carbon. For over 100 years, coal companies have been on the quest for clean coal and have not been able to deliver this technology. Coal will remain the most polluting of the fossil fuels. Representative McKinley is wasting tax dollars by pursuing this dead end.
According to what was noted in the column about the ARC’s report, it seems to be a factual review of the “changing coal economy” and mentions the needs of displaced workers. The columnist is critically irate; however, because the information in this report is not news to Appalachians who have lived through coal’s decline. It is also implied by the editor that the “environmental concerns” and “limits needed to curb climate change” are unnecessary and unfortunate (although curbing climate change is essential to the future of our planet). The ARC is also criticized because their report neglected to “start looking for solutions.”
Wake up Appalachia! It is past time to face the reality that coal will never be a “vibrant industry” again. The solutions to an economic revitalization don’t involve the promise of the impossible or the revival of a dead as the dinosaurs industry. Instead they are right outside the door in the form of renewable resources such as solar power and wind energy. The entire world is involved in a renewable energy revolution. The USA will be playing catch up and WV will be left behind in the (coal) dust.