Leaders Gather In Pikeville For Energy Symposium

By: Danielle Morgan & Heather Haley Email
By: Danielle Morgan & Heather Haley Email

A new vision for energy in the year 2030. That's what leaders from at least 14 states gathered to discuss in Pike County Monday at an energy symposium, how to gain independence from foreign oil by using natural resources in Eastern Kentucky.

U.S. Senator Jim Bunning says he's fighting for 15 billion dollars in federal funding past 2010 to help reach the goal of an energy secure America by 2030.

"We're at the mercy of Middle Eastern oil companies, OPEC, and the total non-control of the price of crude oil that is dictated by a monopoly to the U.S," Bunning said.

On the state level, some legislators say few revisions need to be made to the new energy bill, but overall, everyone is working together.

"This issue has not been handled in a partisan way. It’s been handled in a very bipartisan way," said Senator Ray Jones.

Whether it's coal, biomass or another alternative, Pike County Judge Executive Wayne Rutherford says the nation needs new energy sources.

"Our mission is really zero emissions from all of our energy sources," Rutherford said.

Not everyone attending the energy symposium supports using coal for oil.

"I think that conservation is the way to go and we can start doing that now. We don't have to spend billions of dollars," said David Cooper with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

Senator Bunning agrees more conservation is need, but he says it's not enough.

"I think conserving as much energy as possible is part of the solution, but we can't conserve our way if we don't have enough energy to power our economy," Bunning said.

Environmentalists including Kentuckians For The Commonwealth say they're against using coal for liquid fuel. They actually gathered outside of the energy symposium to show their opposition with coal to liquid fuel production, because they say coal to liquid fuel will result in the greater destruction of the mountains.

Members of the Kentuckians For The Commonwealth say the state and the nation needs an energy policy that puts people and communities first.

"If you can't deep mine it, it ain't worth getting it out of the mountain in the first place," said Carl Shoupe.

They say they want the state's leaders to pursue a vision for cleaner and safer ways to meet the nation's energy needs.

"To think about coal production going up 40% is just a scary thought considering we've buried almost 500 miles of headwater streams with valley fills in the state today," said Teri Blanton.

Members say it's time to seize the opportunity to invest in energy efficiency but the energy should be a renewable resource such as wind, solar, or bio fuel.

"They say coal is a clean, cheap source of energy. There is nothing clean and there's nothing cheap about it if you live in a place where they're producing coal," Blanton said.

They believe officials would be rushing coal to liquid fuel production if Governor Fletcher calls a special session.

"Not the destruction of the land, the culture of the people. Let’s move to some positive things for our future," Blanton said.

Members of the Kentuckians For The Commonwealth believe the choices made this year about our energy policy have the potential to secure a better future for generations to come, but they believe that can only happen with renewable resources.

One thing both groups seem to agree on is the need for energy independence. Making that happen is where they strongly disagree.

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