Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

West Virginia Should Take Advantage of Power Plus Plan

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

West Virginia Should Take Advantage of Power Plus Plan

Article excerpt

A month ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited Clean Power Plan. While national opinion on this rule has been balanced, in West Virginia it has largely been critical. Undoubtedly, implementation of this new policy will not be good for the state's coal industry, but, realistically, there are other important negative long-term trends in play, including booming natural gas production, increases in energy efficiency leading to a flattening of electricity demand, and the fact that the remaining West Virginia coal is more expensive to extract.

Whatever happens, coal will remain a significant part of the energy landscape for at least another generation, but during that time there will be continuing deterioration of the local economies and social structures of many coal country communities. Although the Clean Power Plan has been a major topic of discussion here in West Virginia, another related proposal called the Power Plus Plan, which is part of the president's 2016 budget, has not. Since little is known about it, let me provide a few details.

There are three major components:

1) The Power Plus Plan provides dedicated resources for economic diversification, job creation, job training and other services for workers and communities impacted by layoffs at coal mines and coal- fired power plants.

2) It includes unprecedented investments in the health and retirement security of mineworkers and their families and the accelerated clean-up of abandoned coal mine lands.

3) Since coal will, for years, maintain a role in energy production here and around the world, the plan provides new tax incentives for ongoing research and development and implementation of carbon-capture technologies to extend the industry's viability in the new regulatory environment.

Although Power Plus has been largely ignored here in the Mountain State, support for its use to revitalize affected Appalachian communities is growing elsewhere in the region. …

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