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Energy: Feds should invest in WVU project

As politicians go barreling toward an energy future in which some appear unbothered by how much damage is done to the humans living on the planet they claim they are trying to save, researchers at West Virginia University are taking a more holistic approach to the matter.

To that end, the WVU Industrial Assessment Center has received $2.9 million to fund a project that will “help promote emerging concepts, technologies and use of alternative energy sources to supply heat, power and new feedstocks for energy-intensive industries,” in an effort meant to help small- and mid-sized businesses reduce their carbon footprint and save money.

Meanwhile, the researchers also hope to “train the energy workforce of tomorrow,” rather than just abandoning those whose job are part of the energy workforce of today.

“We look forward to the next five years on this continuing project to generate the next generation of energy and manufacturing engineers and assist manufacturers and water treatment facilities in their efforts towards energy efficiency, water and waste reduction, smart manufacturing, energy management, cybersecurity, decarbonization and resiliency planning,” Bhaskaran Gopalakrishnan, director of the WVU-IAC, said.

Decarbonization may be the part of that plan that gets the attention, but if it can be done in a way that boosts our workforce, rather than devastating it AND save employers money, it is hard to argue that such research is of vital importance in the Mountain State and across Appalachia.

Throughout its announcement of the most recent funding, WVU-IAC officials stressed its collaboration with technical training centers and community colleges to truly serve the people who will need it most in this transition.

It is a wonderful start. But in the world of government funding, $2.9 million is just a drop in the bucket. Here’s hoping Congress and the U.S. Department of Energy have MUCH more in mind to do the job right.

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