Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Mark Warner (D-VA) at the Coal Technology Symposium hosted by West Virginia University and the University of North Dakota. The event focused on finding commonsense, viable paths forward for coal, which is projected to remain America's most abundant, reliable and affordable domestic energy source for the next few decades.
In addition to presentations from the Senators, leading experts from government, industry, academia, and environmental groups presented information on current and near-term technology options for coal-based power. During the course of three panel sessions, topics included the existing coal fleet and current energy-efficient technologies; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; international collaboration; and coal's critical role in the future of America's energy mix.
Below is Senator Manchin's opening statement as prepared for delivery:
I am so pleased to join my friends Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, and Mark Warner in welcoming you to this important symposium on clean coal technology.
I'd like to thank all the participants who are here today, and particularly Dr. Richard Bajura and Mary Bowman from West Virginia University. They have worked extremely hard, together with their colleagues from the University of North Dakota, to pull together this impressive group.
We have representatives here from the U.S. and Canadian governments, industry, academia, and the environmental community. It's a very diverse group that has one thing in common: we want to work together to improve our energy future.
The Department of Energy's own Energy Information Administration predicts that coal will continue to provide about a third of our power for at least the next three decades.
There is no question that coal will be part of our energy mix. There is also no question that climate change is real. So we must come together -- as we have today -- to talk about how we can work together to ensure reliable, affordable electricity and protect our environment. I truly believe that if we work together, we can do both. But we must work together.
I hope that the conversations we have here today will start a wider dialogue on balancing our energy and economic needs with environmental concerns.
As we are about to discuss in great detail, we have the capability to significantly improve the way we use coal. Carbon capture and sequestration shows great promise. But it has not yet been proven on a commercial scale.
We must work together to make full commercial scale carbon capture and sequestration a reality.
I've met with both Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz and acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Chris Smith, and I'm hopeful we can work together to move the most promising clean coal research projects forward.
I am heartened by the $8 billion dollar loan guarantee program for fossil energy that the Administration re-proposed last fall. But we can't let that money just sit there. We've got to kick-start this program and get the money flowing.
We have a moral obligation to our people -- to keep our country safe but also to keep our economy strong.
We can have reliable and affordable energy and a clean environment at the same time.
That is the balance I have always sought. That is the balance I truly believe is attainable. Thank all of you for coming.