The Herald-Dispatch. December 20, 2022.
Editorial: Despite climate concerns, coal use worldwide grows
Despite all the warnings about how burning coal is turning the late great planet earth into a hothouse, demand for coal is growing.
The International Energy Agency reported Friday that coal use throughout the world is likely to set a record this year.
The Paris-based agency said in a new report that while coal use grew by only 1.2% in 2022, the increase pushed it to an all-time high of more than 8 billion metric tons, beating the previous record set in 2013, the Associated Press reported.
“The world’s coal consumption will remain at similar levels in the following years in the absence of stronger efforts to accelerate the transition to clean energy,” the agency said, noting that “robust demand” in emerging Asian economies would offset declining use in mature markets.
Interestingly, the agency’s report came the day before the owners of the former Philip Sporn Plant took most of that structure down early Saturday. Appalachian Power, the plant’s former owner, retired the plant in 2015 because of new air pollution regulations. Appalachian Power decided the coal-burning plant was too small to justify the investment of new pollution control technology.
So while coal use in the United States decreases, demand elsewhere more than makes up for our cutbacks.
Modern society runs on electricity. The rest of the world wants the standard of living we have here in the United States. That requires electricity. So far renewables and carbon-neutral generating sources have not been able to meet the demand. There aren’t enough solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric dams to supply the need.
Coal can be stored on site, so it’s not as vulnerable to delivery problems as natural gas during times of conflict, as Europeans have discovered. Nuclear power could stage a comeback with new technology, but widespread deployment is at least a decade away.
So the world is stuck with coal. It’s probably a temporary situation, as renewable sources and nuclear advancement will catch up sooner or later.
The resurgence of coal is not something West Virginia officials should bank on. According to the AP, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam have signed investment agreements with rich partner countries over the past year that will help them boost efforts to shift to renewable sources such as wind and solar.
State officials can take advantage of coal’s surge for now, but they also need to prepare for the day when this surge has run its course.
The Intelligencer. December 19, 2022.
Editorial: Take Advantage Of Fed’s Assistance
In a state that is routinely listed among the most dependent on federal tax dollars, it is easy to understand why some West Virginians would hesitate to seek help that is available when they need it. In a situation where the money is already here, that does more harm than good in the long run.
One example is the West Virginia Homeowners Rescue Program, funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to assist Mountain State homeowners facing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic that began after Jan. 21, 2020, (including a hardship that began before Jan. 21, 2020, and continued after that date).
Jessica Greathouse, special programs manager for the fund, said the help provided could mean financial stability.
“Homeownership is really important, as is being able to keep a roof over your head and the lights on,” Greathouse told WCHS. “West Virginia has the highest homeownership rate in the nation. We know a lot of people need help and we have the money to help right now. I hope the future (sees) people apply, we get them help and they are more financially stable.”
Yes, she is saying there is more money available than people applying for the help right now. That’s not a surprise in West Virginia, but it should be reversed quickly.
Those who are eligible “can get up to $20,000 of mortgage payment assistance and $5,000 in taxes, insurance and homeownership fees as well as $2,500 in utility payments,” Greathouse said.
Eligibility is the key, of course, and those who are interested can find out more at wvhdf.com/west-virginia-homeowners-rescue. Those who are eligible should not let pride get in the way of saving their home and getting back on track.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel. December 21, 2022.
Editorial: Education: Lawmakers should help students meet challenge
Despite some worry about what the pandemic might do to higher education numbers in West Virginia, enrollment for this fall shows the numbers remain “mostly steady” in community and technical colleges and public universities.
West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission says “mostly steady” means enrollment increased from 15,555 in 2021 to 15,770 in 2022 for community and technical colleges; but dropped from 57,102 in 2021 to 56,303 this year in public four-year universities, according to a report by WDTV.
The number of first-time freshmen increased in both systems; and the number of high school students taking dual enrollment courses from public college and universities also increased. In other words, young people don’t seem to be as thrown off course as we were worried.
In fact, they’re making smarter decisions about the kind of education that fits their goals, needs and budget, and that, too, is a good sign. Starting as early as they are able shows intelligence and initiative.
“Nearly 67% of students in the class of 2021 who took dual enrollment courses went to a community college or a four-year institution after graduation, while only 23% of students who didn’t take any college-level courses in high school continued on,” Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education, told WDTV. “We know that the availability of dual enrollment courses for our students plays a significant role in their decision to continue education or training and in their overall success. With our college-going rate such a significant challenge and knowing that students with only a high school diploma earn an annual salary of around $20,000 after graduation, we must find a way to make college-level courses more accessible to all students. It is critical for them, and it is critical for the long-term economic stability of our state.”
If more young people are demonstrating an understanding of the importance of furthering their education without going into crippling debt, it seems lawmakers and other public officials should demonstrate they understand those are precisely the kinds of young people for whom we should build a West Virginia in which they want to stay.
They are taking their future seriously. The rest of us must follow their example.