THEIR VIEW: State government playing a role in responsible energy use

By The West Virginia Record | Aug 13, 2009



CHARLESTON -- A sustainable future in energy is perhaps one of the most-desired goals for our state and nation.

While West Virginia is one of the nation's leading energy producers, we are also concerned with how we can play a role in promoting responsible energy consumption.

Over the past few years, I have spoken about the role West Virginia will play in the nation's energy future –- particularly involving clean coal technology, carbon sequestration, alternative energy and coal liquefaction. I believe we can accomplish our state's goal to reach energy independence if we continue to act responsibly.

In an effort to continue our goal of responsible energy use, development and consumption, I recently asked our state department cabinet secretaries and agency directors to help reduce our fuel consumption by replacing state-owned vehicles with more fuel efficient vehicles. In particular, the Department of Administration recently enacted a fleet downsizing initiative which has resulted in increased fuel efficiency for many state vehicles, leading to a cost savings. We are evaluating those cost savings now.

State agencies have also been directed to assess the use of alternative fuels and biofuels when entering into fuel-purchasing contracts. I've asked them to consider purchasing alternative fuel or biofuel vehicles when replacing existing fleet vehicles.

Currently, there are several alternative fuels and biofuel locations, including biodiesel fuel being produced and sold in West Virginia. The increased use of these fuels right here in West Virginia has the potential to create additional jobs in this emerging industry, while benefiting the state's agricultural economy as well. Importantly, increasing the use of these fuels derived from domestic resources will diversify our state's energy use and reduce our dependence on imported oil.

I am aware of how vital automobile transportation is in West Virginia. I have said before that we must "drive to survive" due, in part, to our topography. And, driving allows hundreds of state employees to fulfill their daily business tasks.

Certainly there are many ways to help reduce our energy consumption, not only at work, but in our homes as well. I am confident that West Virginians will continue to step up and support responsible energy consumption. Our state leaders in education and research have worked diligently toward improving the outlook and use of energy across the state. The state lawmakers have also been very supportive in our responsible energy efforts by supporting progressive legislation.

If we continue to work collaboratively, I have no doubt that we will be able to make a difference in our pursuit to a more productive future.

Manchin is governor of West Virginia.

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