By July 7, 2017 Read More →

Perry: Don’t take coal ‘off the table’

By CARTER WALKER

Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.  — Secretary of Energy Rick Perry made his first official visit to West Virginia on Thursday, touring some of the state’s energy facilities.

Perry began the day with a tour of Longview Power Plant, a coal plant in Monongalia County. Longview officials describe it as a highly efficient “clean-coal” plant and said it is “one of the cleanest coal-fired power plants in the United States.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry speaks to the staff of the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown Thursday.
(Photo by Carter Walker)

Joining Perry on his tour was U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; and Congressman David McKinley R-W.Va.

In a statement following his tour, Perry called Longview a “remarkable example” and a “model” of how clean coal can work as a source of energy.

“I’m an all-of-the-above energy person. I don’t want to just move something off the table if it just politically doesn’t fit,” Perry said. “For the last eight years we’ve seen coal basically taken off of the plate. … That kind of thinking, I think, is counterproductive to what American innovation is all about.”

The secretary caused a bit of a stir on social media early in the day, when he was quoted as saying, “Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand. You put the supply out there and the demand will follow.”

Later in the the day, the entourage toured the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown. The Department of Energy-owned laboratory researches ways to more effectively use fossil fuels and how to do so in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Talking with the NETL staff and press in a conference after the tour, Perry commended them for their “critical research,” saying that it makes a difference on a national level.

“Our country is driven by innovation,” Perry said. “There’s no place that I am aware of in government that reflects that any more, and I get it. I’m biased, but I think the Department of Energy reflects that innovation as well as any place in our federal government.”

Perry was particularly impressed with the laboratory research on rare earth element extraction from coal. Rare earth elements are used in a wide range of industries, including hybrid vehicles, fluorescent lights, computers and mobile phones.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. imported $120 million worth of rare earth elements in 2016.

The NETL recently found that these minerals can be extracted from coal byproduct materials through an iron-exchange process.

“The idea that we’re going to be able to develop rare earth elements from coal, that’s really fascinating stuff,” Perry said.

Commenting on the day’s events, Manchin said that because Perry comes from an energy state, Texas, that he understands what it will take for the United States to become energy independent.

“(Secretary Perry and I) both understand that you have to have a balance between the economy the environment,” Manchin said. “The cleaner we want our environment, we have to work harder to develop the technology that uses the resources we have in a cleaner fashion. That’s where NETL plays a big part. That’s what he was able to see today.”

Manchin added that these tours are important for Perry because when there are budget cuts occurring, he will understand the importance of the research being done at NETL.

“I’m really proud to be on your team,” Perry said to the staff of NETL. “I officially have the coolest place to work.”

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