CHARLESTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said Saturday that a tour of West Virginia energy sites demonstrated to two of his colleagues that the state isn’t focused solely on coal.
Manchin was accompanied by Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Oregon’s Ron Wyden on a two-day tour that ran the gamut of the state’s energy resources: coal, wind, hydroelectric and Marcellus Shale gas.
“We have basically showed them a state that is all in,” Manchin said. “People have thought of us as coal and coal only, but we’re trying to embrace all of this.”
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who joined the senators at a news conference, said West Virginia is diversifying its energy portfolio and “will continue to be an energy state.” He added that West Virginia is committed to producing energy “in an environmentally responsible way,” but said the Environmental Protection Agency in return must be reasonable in its dealings with the state.
Wyden said environmental policy makers and regulators need to consider differing characteristics and needs from state to state, and “I think we are going to be capable of doing that.”
He added that after seeing so many West Virginians enjoying the outdoors on a beautiful late-spring day, he is convinced they don’t want anyone to “pillage and ravage their land.”
Murkowski called the tour “pretty incredible” and said it was good for her to see how one small state is using all the energy resources at its disposal.
Manchin, a Democrat, is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Murkowski is the committee’s leading Republican. Wyden will be the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee after the retirement of chairman Jeff Bingaman.
“I can assure you you’re looking at the next chairman of the Energy Committee,” Manchin said.
That position will be determined by which party controls the Senate after the next election. No matter how that pans out, Wyden said he and Murkowski are committed to bipartisanship in shaping the nation’s energy policy.