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Energy: West Virginia legislators show willingness to change

State senators sent an important message about West Virginia Tuesday as they voted nearly unanimously to repeal the state’s prohibition against nuclear power.

“I’m excited. Another barrier down for economic development in the State of West Virginia,” said state Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley. “You can’t ask for anything better than that.”

Among the reasons for an increased sense of urgency on the matter was news that Nucor would likely be using electric arc furnaces in its new Mason County steel mill, rather than coal-fired furnaces. In fact, Nucor has a reputation for seeking out contracts with clean energy companies. They are not alone.

“This bill makes us a leader in terms of being all-of-the-above in terms of our energy sources,” said Senate Minority Whip Michael Woelfel, D-Cabell. “I know the Nucor Corporation has asked us about what our future plans may be, and this would be a step, as they see it, in the right direction to allow nuclear energy as an energy source.”

More to the point, Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha said this bill shows “We’re not close minded.”

Exactly. West Virginia lawmakers finally appear to understand they cannot stubbornly cling to the economy of the past, nor disregard (or intentionally hamper) energy sources and industries they believe might create competition for the pillars of that century-old economy.

Certainly Sen. Michael Romano, D-Harrison, is right to want to ensure there is plenty of oversight and regulation in place for any newcomers; and lawmakers must not ignore his concerns as the bill now heads to the House of Delegates.

But the change is a welcomed one here in West Virginia, and we look forward to more steps forward by this legislature.

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