West Virginia is faced with a moral dilemma when it comes to coal. Coal is the state’s number one resource, but it is affecting the health of its citizens. The effects of coal-fired power plants are harming the health of Americans nationwide, and even more so in our own state. Coal is West Virginia’s top source for income, jobs, and electricity, so should West Virginia, along with the rest of the nation switch to a greener alternative, or is clean coal technology really a viable option?
West Virginia needs the jobs, income, electricity and tax revenue that coal provides. Coal provides 30,000 direct jobs in West Virginia, which account for a total payroll of close to two billion dollar. In addition to the payroll taxes collected from those jobs, there is a significant amount of additional tax revenue generated by the coal industry. Taxes paid by the coal companies and the electric utility companies account for two-thirds of all business taxes paid in the state. In addition, the coal companies and electric utilities pay an additional seventy million dollars in property taxes each year, which go directly to the counties. The coal companies also pay Coal Severance Taxes that equate to $214 million dollars. The severance taxes are divided amongst all 55 counties (with twenty-four million dollars going into the Infrastructure Bond Fund).
More than half of the total electricity in this country is produced from coal. Here in West Virginia ninety-nine percent of our electricity is produced from coal. As of now there are fourteen coal fired power plants in our state.
Many people feel that coal is harmful to the environment, and to rid the world of it would be a just action. Recently ten states have threatened to join...
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...he lower temperatures the amount of NOX and SO2 emissions are drastically cut. However, because this technique typically utilizes lower quality coal the amount of CO2 emissions can increase. Another approach, which I believe is the best available approach, involves integrated gasification. This process, which is relatively new, produces an average thermal efficiency increase of between forty and fifty percent. Because it is a relatively new technology there currently are only four coal-based integrated gasification combined cycle plants in operation. Many scientists believe this technology will be a pivotal in providing a “clean coal” option for the future. I believe West Virginia should be on the fore-front of implementing this new technology and should develop a plan to convert its existing pulverized coal-fired plants over to integrated gasification plants.
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