West Virginia Senators Capito, Manchin and Governor Justice Address Energy Summit Attendees in West Virginia
By Charles Young
October 9, 2019 - Attendees of the second day of the 13th annual Governor’s Energy Summit had an opportunity to hear remarks from both of West Virginia’s U.S. senators and Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday at Stonewall Resort.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., each touched on their efforts in Washington to support the state’s diverse energy industries, while Justice focused on the importance of supporting President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Capito, who sits on U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said she has been a tireless advocate for the state’s energy producers during her five years in the Senate.
“Energy and energy production is something I’ve spent a lot of time on in my years in Washington,” she said. “Certainly I’ve always been a proponent of all of the above and have worked with many of you to make sure that not only primary industries here in West Virginia are paid attention to and allowed to flourish, but also new innovation.”
The state’s coal industry is currently “in flux” but is expected to continue playing an important economic role for decades to come, Capito said.
“There is a future for coal in the energy mix of our country,” she said.
Capito said she has supported numerous efforts aimed at jumpstarting the proposed Appalachian Storage Hub project.
The Appalachian Storage Hub is a long-discussed network of oil and gas facilities that many in the industry have hoped would lead to a boom in petrochemical manufacturing and other downstream activities in West Virginia and neighboring states.
“We’re going to keep pushing this in any form or fashion that we can,” Capito said. “I think all of us in this room want to see whatever development we have coming from this natural gas ... that would keep the resource and the benefits and the job growth and prosperity following from this in and around the people who own the properties and live in the areas.”
Manchin, who founded the annual Energy Summit in 2006 while serving as governor, said the energy industry landscape has seen a dramatic shift in just over a decade.
“Things have changed in 12 years. Twelve years ago, close to 45%, 50% of the energy in the United States was from coal. Now we’re down to 25% and falling rapidly,” he said. “Things are changing.”
Manchin, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, said he recognizes that environmental concerns must be at the forefront of any conversation dealing with energy production.
“I can assure you, if we don’t start doing something with the environment ... acknowledging that we’ve got a responsibility, and we’ve got to be a world leader but can do it by innovation,” he said. “The difference I have with some of my colleagues is that they want elimination — I think innovation.”
Justice, who was elected in 2016 as a Democrat before announcing his switch to the Republican Party during a 2017 appearance at a Trump rally in Huntington, urged those in attendance Tuesday to support the president’s reelection bid.
“If we don’t reelect our president, then we are complete nuts,” he said. “The only way that we super lose — super lose — is if both of us fade away. We super lose then. If you don’t believe that, you’re nuts.”
Justice predicated he would win reelection in 2020 but said he’s “really, really worried” about Trump’s chances.
“He worries too,” Justice said. “He’s a really good man, and he’s done a lot, a lot of good. He will continue to do more and more and more good. The cast of characters that are on the stage (during recent Democratic debates) will absolutely, teetotally destroy us.”
Justice also spoke about the recently established Governor’s Downstream Jobs Task Force, which he formed in August to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a petrochemical manufacturing industry in the state.
“We put my good friend (Department of Environmental Protection Secretary) Austin Caperton as the leader of the band,” Justice said. “And he’ll do great, great work there.”
Senator Joe Manchin speaks during the 13th annual Governor's Energy Summit.
Photo by Charles Young
Senator Shelley Moore Capito speaks about her commitment to fighting on behalf of West Virginia's energy industries.
Photo by Charles Young
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice speaks on the second day of the 13th annual Governor's Energy Summit.
Photo by Charles Young