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Justice: W.Va. key to US energy independence

Photo courtesy of W.Va. Governor’s Office

Gov. Jim Justice on Monday reiterated West Virginia’s place in making the United States energy independent.

West Virginia’s coal, natural gas and oil can reduce foreign dependence until cleaner sources of energy become viable, according to Justice. Civilization only progresses on abundant, cheap energy, he said.

“All I’m saying is today we have no ability, no ability to do without fossil fuels, and people who don’t believe that, I think are nuts. That’s all there is to it,” the governor said during his Monday morning COVID-19 pandemic briefing. “You got a bunch of people in the world who don’t have one clue about what they’re talking about, and they run, they run through the neighborhoods screaming ‘get rid of this, get rid of that.’

“Sounds great. All the green stuff sounds just great. At the end of the day, when we get right down to it, we realize, ‘Dag, we can’t make it just going that way,'” Justice said.

Every obstacle known has been thrown in the way of fossil fuels, he said. The industries have not been helped to develop cleaner energy sources, Justice said.

“All we have done is kick them,” said Justice, whose family remains heavily involved in the coal industry.

Justice on Friday also spoke to delegates and senators in the Rotunda of the Capitol on the part West Virginia can play in energy independence and the sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions included bans on importing Russian oil.

“Like it or not, we hold the card to maybe solving the world’s problems,” Justice said. “And not only do we hold the cards to solve it, those cards could be the economic impact for West Virginia that you can’t fathom. You can’t fathom the economic impact that could be for the state of West Virginia.”

In other issues, the 2022 Legislature closed at midnight Saturday. Lawmakers passed 293 bills during the 60-day session, and that’s after thousands of bills have been passed over the years, Justice said.

“How in the world we still have 293 that need to be passed, I don’t have any clue,” he said.

Justice also briefly discussed the future of the pandemic briefings with the decline of the virus, but said regular sessions would be beneficial for the public.

The West Virginia National Guard has marked the two-year anniversary since it was activated by the governor on its pandemic mission. The Guard ended its support services in hospitals and health care facilities on Friday with about 700 members involved, Maj. Gen. William E. Crane said.

“This makes this the longest continuous activation of the National Guard in the state’s history,” Crane said.

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