LAWRENCE MESSINA Associated Press Writer ROANOKE, W.Va. (AP)
Governors from leading energy producing states got a chance to vent Tuesday about congressional inaction on America's energy future. At a daylong summit, officials from 11 states called upon Capitol Hill to provide the detailed road map needed to guide U.S. energy policy away from a dependence on foreign oil. Instead of honestly weighing the country's energy options, "the Congress has operated on its own prejudices," Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal told reporters. At the helm of the nation's top coal-producing state, Freudenthal echoed the summit's key theme: As long as coal remains this country's most abundant fossil fuel, it must play a central role in U.S. policy. The meeting's title, "Advancing Domestic Resources in an Era of Carbon Challenges," hints at coal's status as the chief culprit in the greenhouse gas debate. Also under fire in Eastern states is mountaintop removal mining, where layers of earth are blasted away to expose coal seams and then dumped in the valleys below. Cleaner and renewable sources must be part of the mix, the summit's speakers said. But they also argued such alternatives cannot replace coal as the fuel behind about half of the nation's electricity. "The bottom line is, it will continue to produce a large share for many years," said Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the nation's secondlargest source of coal and the summit's host. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Gov.-elect Steve Beshear of Kentucky struck similar notes at the meeting. Officials from Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah also participated.