U.S. energy secretary visit will have little impact

An editorial from The Inter-Mountain 

ELKINS, W.Va. — Give U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., points for trying. Unfortunately, his new effort on behalf of West Virginia coal miners and families worried about their electric bills is based on faulty reasoning.

Manchin announced this week that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has accepted an invitation to come to the Mountain State next month. The idea is for Moniz to “see firsthand the work West Virginians are doing to develop clean coal technology,” Manchin explained.

In all probability, the senator hopes to persuade Moniz and through him, others in government to put more energy into finding ways to use coal cleanly than into attempting to kill the industry. With it would go affordable electricity for tens of millions of consumers.

It would not be the first time Manchin and, for that matter, other Mountain State lawmakers have asked national policymakers to come to West Virginia on the same mission.

But such invitations rely on a couple of assumptions. One is that if those steering national energy policy can meet with West Virginians in the coal industry, they may be less dismissive of killing their jobs. Another is that reasonable minds should conclude that coal needs to be a major part of energy policy – and can be.

Moniz insists he sees promise in clean coal technology and wants to pursue it.

But President Barack Obama and many others in his administration have made it clear they don’t view the U.S. energy future that way. They are determined – by whatever means necessary – to close as many mines and coal-fired power plants as they can.

And Hillary Clinton, Obama’s designated successor, wants to use even harsher policies in pursuit of that goal.

It is doubtful anything Moniz can be convinced of or can say after he returns to Washington will make the slightest difference in the plans Obama and Clinton have for coal and affordable electricity.

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