EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSTown Hall Provides Passionate Discussion On Energy Future
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Also Contributing: Elizabeth Noreika, Jeff Morris
Reported: Aug. 29, 2013 1:03 PM EDT
Updated: Aug. 30, 2013 3:58 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
It was an event filled with fiery and heated debate about the way we power our country now and in the future.
The “Town Hall: Your Voice, Your Future,” forum was hosted by Eyewitness News at the Clay Center Thursday night.
Coal has been king in West Virginia for decades, it and dominated the forum on energy.
It was apparent coal is as divisive as the seams that run through the mountains.
The health impacts of coal and the way it is mined, particularly mountaintop removal mining, took center stage for much of the discussion.
“Nobody working on any of our jobs wants to make someone sick,” Bill Raney, head of the West Virginia Coal Association, said. “We will not do that, and we're taking every precaution to keep that from happening.”
Bo Webb, environmentalist with Coal River Mountain Watch, disagreed.
“There’s no question mountaintop removal is making people sick,” he said. “We are in the middle of a health crisis.”
When it came to coal jobs, which are in decline, the reason was up for debate.
Raney blamed the Obama administration, and increased regulations, along with changing markets.
Webb said it is because mountain top removal mines don't require as many workers.
And while coal jobs are in jeopardy, natural gas, with the Marcellus Shale, could be the future, according to one on the panel.
Michael McCown, with Gastar Exploration, said the industry has a promising future.
“Through private enterprise, I'm convinced that the U.S. is going to be the leading oil supplier in the world by 2020,” he said. “Today the oil and gas industry has 17,000 employees and there's probably 60 with the associated jobs and all in, in the future by 2035 we're expecting 72,000 jobs just in oil and gas industry.”
But there are concerns there, too, with fracking to harvest the natural gas. McCown said it is a technology that's been around for more than 50 years.
“Natural gas is clean, cheap and it’s home grown,” he said. “The Marcellus wells are the real deal. That's one of many reservoirs we have to look forward to. It’s the technology that has gotten us to where we are today with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, that's really caused us to be enjoying and oil and gas revolution in the country and make us energy independent."
In West Virginia, where coal is king, the debate over the most responsible way to harness energy has fueled controversy across the state.
Here is a chance to put your 2 cents in on this important discussion, as either a member of a town hall audience that will tackle the topic or by watching live stream coverage of the session and commenting through social media.
The vehicle for the discussion will be “Town Hall: Your Voice, Your Future,” a forum that will be hosted by Eyewitness News from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Clay Center in Charleston.
Panelists representing diverse interests will take the stage at the town hall meeting to field questions from a live audience on the harvesting of energy and its production. What is the best way to gather and use such resources as coal, natural gas, solar and wind? Guest panelists will be Kelley Goes, state director for U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's office; Bill Raney, head of the West Virginia Coal Association; environmentalist Bo Webb; and Michael McCown, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Gastar Exploration.
Anyone interested in being a member of the town hall audience must register online. Just visit this link on our homepage at wchstv.com and fill out the online registration form here
Seating is limited, and filling out an online registration form does not guarantee admission to the event.
But you don’t have to be at the Clay Center to join in on the debate. The town hall meeting will be broadcast live on our website at wchstv.com, where you can watch live stream coverage and click on links that will allow you to comment on social media, including our Facebook and Twitter pages, as the discussion happens.
So we want to hear your energetic discussion on vital issues that have waged from the coalfields of West Virginia all the way to Washington. Mark your calendar for 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, and be a part of “Town Hall: Your Voice, Your Future.”
To watch the live stream of the event, go here.
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