According to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, the coal industry is sometimes treated in Washington like a Vietnam War veteran who has just returned home. 

On Wednesday, Manchin, D-WVa., welcomed U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to the Northern Panhandle. The two took a tour underground of Ohio County Coal Resources Inc.’s mine at Golden Ridge Portal in Dallas, WVa. 

I’ve talked to a lot of miners. And basically, the rhetoric coming out of Washington — because they don’t know who we are or what we do — is that they feel like the returning Vietnam veterans,” Manchin said. “We’ve done everything you’ve asked of us, and now we’re not good enough. That’s not the case. You cannot replace what they’ve done.” 

There could be a time in the future when America and the world transition from coal, but that time is not now,” he said. “We’ll be using nuclear, all renewables — we know that,” Manchin said. “But you don’t accelerate it to the point that we’re not ready for that day. But that is what we hear in Washington.” 

Walsh took over as Secretary of Labor six months ago, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration is under his jurisdiction. Although the former Boston mayor has a background in construction, he admitted he had never been inside a coal mine. 

Manchin stated that this is why he decided to invite Walsh to West Virginia. The pair took a four-mile “Disney World ride” back into the mine. Walsh said he observed the miners at work and developed a new appreciation for what they do. 

“I thanked them,” he said. “I asked them how often they get thanked, and one young man told me, ‘Nobody thanks me.’” About 120 work in the mine, and Walsh said all safety protocols appeared to be in place. Manchin said the coal industry would be saved “because it has to be.”  The country can’t operate without it,” he said. “There will be a transition period of time. We don’t know when that will be. But we’re looking at doing it systematically and not just an accelerated way because somebody doesn’t like fossil or coal.” 

According to Manchin, Asia and India consume the majority of the world’s coal. He stated that China currently has 2,900 coal mines in operation but plans to open 1,500 more in the next two years. America has approximately 500 coal mines, with no new mines planned. There are approximately 6,600 coal mines in the world. 

So, for the people who believe the U.S. mines are polluting the climate and affecting it, it has no impact compared to the impact of Asia,” Manchin said. “So, if you want to clean up the planet, you are going to have to find the technology jobs, be able to capture the carbon and utilize it. We’re the only country that seems to want to do it.” 

 Source: Parkersburg News