|COMMENT by Bob Weaver|
West Virgina politicians continue to be focused on the Obama administration's "war of coal," calling for deregulation of environmental rules enforced by the EPA.
Those politicians rarely mention the market shift to natural gas as the nation's source of power, at least until viable fossil-free energy rises to the front.
Many of West Virginia's most prominent leaders and governors have long been tied to the coal industry with their family investments, and continue to march on Washington and rail about declining coal.
While the loss of coal jobs are devastating to coal miners and the loss of tax revenues to state coffers, what is left of over a century of dependence on coal is dark, bleak and poverty stricken counties in southern West Virginia, ghostly reminders of billions of dollars of extraction.
Surely the extractors of Marcellus Shale gas can step up to the plate and produce gas that does the least amount of harm, as opposed to the decades long covert activities of King Coal, and leave behind communities that can sustain themselves.
Can government can do its part?
Critics say it will be the same song and dance.
Unfortunately, not unlike coal extractors, small gas producers will be left behind by the goliath corporations.
The fossil fuel emission of natural gas can leave a much smaller footprint.
The decline of coal is also driven by the playing-out of easy to reach seams of coal, moving toward being mined-out.
State and business leaders have long depended on coal, failing to diversify the state's economy.
In the 21st Century, for example, the state is at bottom in providing real broadband access which is needed for small and large businesses to exist and expand.
The National Center of Policy Analysis says gas is poised to replace coal, that coal's decline is being driven by free market factors, significantly because it's cheaper and cleaner.