U.S. senators touring West Virginia's energy-producing facilities said Saturday they were impressed by the state's use of resources - and that Congress must work better together to formulate a national energy policy.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., hosted Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska - all members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee - on a tour of energy production sites in West Virginia.
Throughout the day Friday, the group was transported by the West Virginia National Guard to privately visit such sites throughout the state as a natural gas Marcellus Shale drilling pad, coal mines, a coal-fired power plant, a wind farm and reclaimed surface mining locations.
The tour began in Grant County and concluded in Logan County. There were no Northern Panhandle stops.
On Saturday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joined the Senators for a briefing at the West Virginia State Hangar in Charleston.
"People think of us as being a coal only state, but we're doing all we can (to use the state's natural resources for energy production)," Manchin said. "We just don't want to be written out of the equation."
Murkowski said what she observed this weekend was, when given the opportunities to decide the best use of their natural resources, states choose the methods that are best for them.
"As states, we are capable of a great deal," Murkowski said. "We have natural resources, and we have the responsibility to access them and to take care of them. Give us the opportunity to proceed with that."
Wyden noted he what learned during his West Virginia visit was that "what works in Marion County, W.Va. doesn't necessarily work in Marion County, Ga."
He added that as he toured the West Virginia's energy-producing facilities, "I didn't see many people who looked like they wanted to go out and pillage and ruin the air, land and water."
He restated Manchin's words that the nation must be "all in" with all types of energy, and added that Congress, likewise, must be "all in" with a bi-partisan effort toward establishing a national energy policy.
"The next Congress will provide an opportunity to really make a difference ...," Wyden said. "We will have a chance to work together to break the deadlock on energy ....
"We're not going to fudge on this issue, and your senator is going to be key to that."
Tomblin noted how the state is attempting to diversify its energy portfolio.
"We are an energy state, and we will continue to be an energy state," he said. "And we want to produce energy in a responsible way."
Manchin thanked the senators for taking the time to visit West Virginia during a Senate work session in which members typically return to their home states.
Manchin added West Virginians shouldn't be surprised if he doesn't come home during an upcoming weekend, as he plans trips to visit energy facilities with Murkowski in Alaska and Wyden in Oregon in the coming months.