July 17--The United States imports $40 billion more each month than it exports. But West Virginians are doing their part to balance that. Last year, the state exported $4.4 billion worth of coal.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States, which Congress set up to encourage exports through loans, wants the state to stop doing that.
In December, officials at the Ex-Im Bank decided to quit financing the construction of overseas coal plants unless they were in Third World countries or adopted expensive carbon-capture mechanisms.
Fortunately, Congress has the power to reverse that. The bank's current charter is set to expire in September unless Congress reauthorizes the charter for another three years. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is proposing a change that will help the state and the nation to continue exporting coal by exporting the nation's clean coal technology.
"There are 7 billion tons of coal being burned outside the U.S. each year. If we are truly committed to cleaning up our global environment, the U.S. should lead the world in clean coal technology and export that technology to the rest of the world," Manchin said on July 2.
Liberals in the Senate are outraged, the Hill reported this week.
"It essentially says you can build any dirty, filthy coal power plant you wanted," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., also vowed to organize a campaign against protecting coal.
Our senator is correct to fight for coal, which by far is the state's leading export. West Virginia is the nation's leader in coal exports, which means either by accident or design, this unfair rule hurts West Virginia most.
Talk of a post-coal economy is a tad premature, as the Mountain State has enough coal in reserve to meet demand for the next 200 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
If the Export-Import Bank refuses to help West Virginia sell its chief export, then why should Sens. Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, and Reps. David McKinley, Shelley Moore Capito and Nick Joe Rahall support the bank?
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