Plans must be made for changes to coal industry - WBOY - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Plans must be made for changes to coal industry

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  • Transition team must act with urgency

    Transition team must act with urgency

    Friday, December 16 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-16 11:00:16 GMT

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

  • Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Friday, December 9 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-09 11:00:15 GMT

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

  • Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Friday, December 2 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-02 11:00:19 GMT

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

Coal production, long our state's bedrock industry, continues to succumb to negative forces. We can continue to lament the many reasons why this is happening, but we will not be able to move forward until we accept this fact for what it is and plan accordingly. 

We can argue over whether or not political ideologues are conspiring against us, shake our heads at economic factors that are beyond our control and wring our hands over the geographic factors that, quite simply, make coal more difficult to get out of the ground than in times past. Sooner rather than later, we're going to have to start facing the facts. 

Unsurprisingly, private industry is already adjusting to market demands. Consol Energy announced this week that it is considering further reducing its coal assets to focus more on natural gas.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Consol has made some serious investments in the natural gas market in recent years, including a $3.5 billion purchase of gas interests owned by Dominion Resources. The shale gas boom is making quite a few players rethink their business strategies. According to the article, 80 percent of Consol's revenue came from its coal operations in 2013. However, since 2008, its coal production dropped 14 percent, while its natural gas production rose by more than 100 percent. Those are some head-turning numbers and can be viewed in many different ways, but what seems to be an inescapable fact is that our economic landscape is shifting fast and we must be willing to adjust.

All this further accentuates the fact that West Virginia must diversify its economy. We are blessed with an abundance of natural resources — coal, natural gas, timber and water — but our elected leaders are failing to do all they can to move us forward. We've had a modicum of tax reform, but we need to implement a system that does not penalize reinvestment and is modeled after states such as our neighbors in Virginia that encourages growth and investment. 

The failings in our judicial systems must also be addressed. We need a legal system that puts fairness over politics. Our schools must also be upgraded. We need to empower our teachers and challenge students to make them ready for life in the 21st century. 

Our promise is such that we have to be excited, but to truly reach our potential, we need to give our people a real, lasting shot at the American Dream.

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