Manchin and wind power? Say it isn’t so, Joe! West Virginia wind power is on the rise, but make sure you don’t mention the term “climate change” to Senator Joe Manchin III (R-Coal) or other red state Republicans.
Black Rock’s 23 state-of-the-art wind turbines are now part of an “all-of-the-above” approach to West Virginia’s statewide energy policy. That phrase is one of Manchin’s mantras, a way to encourage the continuation of fossil fuels while acknowledging the need for renewables like the West Virginia wind power addition.
The West Virginia wind farm has been praised by state politicians for providing reliable energy and well-paying job opportunities. To these legislators, bragging about wind power’s role in the future of West Virginia and the US isn’t incompatible with what’s known as “climate denial.” The former is a practical energy source that satisfies labor pressures and brings energy stability; the latter is a delay mechanism.
The additional West Virginia wind power adds significantly to the state’s clean energy portfolio, as the once-powerful coal industry is on the decline. The gusts of change could be baffling to you unless you remember that power is politics — for energy production and legislative seat preservation.
The $200 million wind farm in West Virginia’s Grant and Mineral counties was unveiled this month. Clearway Energy Group’s commercial operations on Black Rock, a 115 MW wind farm that spans West Virginia’s Grant and Mineral counties, will increase the state’s wind energy generation by 15%, according to a Clearway Press Release.
The project will produce carbon-free electricity through long-term power purchase arrangements with customers Toyota Motor North America, AEP Energy Partners, and American Electric Power. These are two major employers in West Virginia.
Interview before the unveiling with the Washington PostGary Howell (a Republican member of West Virginia House of Delegates) said he supports Black Rock Project because it created over 200 jobs during construction and almost a dozen permanent operations positions. There’s also an appealing partnership with Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, which has a program to train students in turbine construction and maintenance. “We’re training a whole new class of workers,” said Howell, proudly displaying a turbine-shaped pin on his lapel.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miner’s Health and SafetyIn May 2022, there were 59 467 coal workers.
Clearway is the largest state operator of renewable energy. It invested more than $460million in West Virginia last fiscal year to develop, build, and repower wind projects. The company’s 550 MW portfolio in the state includes another 120 MW wind farm under development in the same region. Craig Cornelius, CEO of the company, said $52 million was spent on payroll and services during construction.
Clearway also created the Black Rock Community Benefit Fund which will donate $50,000 annually to local nonprofits.
“West Virginia has to be a diversified state; we don’t want to forget about the coal and natural gas industries,” Governor Jim JusticeThe 2020 virtual groundbreaking explains. “But we want to welcome the alternatives.” The state-of-the-art wind turbines will generate enough electricity to power 55,000 West Virginia homes each year.
The northeastern portion of West Virginia is riddled with barren landscapes, which have been evicted by mountaintop removal. form of miningIn which the summits and sides of mountains are literally blasted to expose layers coal. Blackrock’s wind turbines are located on the same mountain ranges that have been ravaged by fossil fuel production. Ironic form of eco-justice.
Climate Denial in 2022 means Climate Action Delays
West Virginia wind power enjoys support across the political aisle, as indicated by Manchin’s willingness to hold bipartisan energy talks. Manchin has been a Important holdout voteThe evenly divided Senate votes on climate legislation.
That vacillation arises as more and more former climate denialists have succumbed to the existential truth about fossil fuel’s role in greenhouse gas emissions; indeed, the majority of the public now accepts the science of climate change. Manchin and others used to use climate denial as a strategy, but now they make constant attempts to address the issue. block meaningful climate actionsBy creating skepticism around renewable energy solutions
Delay is the new denial – “climate delayism,” according to John E. FernándezDirector of the Environmental Solutions Initiative. Fernández says that climate delayism is a systematic and coordinated strategy to bring about unwarranted concern regarding a wide range of climate actions. “Climate denialists have been primarily interested in obfuscation and nurturing confusion for the purpose of derailing and delaying climate actions,” Fernández continues, noting that obfuscation and confusion have, really, always been the ultimate goals.
Delayism’s responses to the existential threat of the climate crisis from this perspective are:
- It’s too late, the game is over, so we might as well not overreact. Therefore, let’s make the best of a bad situation and accept that fossil fuels, like methane, are here to stay. (This approach appeals primarily to people who feel a lack in agency.
- Alternatives can be risky and may not work. They can also be costly and make the situation worse. (In this situation, doubt is cast about the true value and potential dangers of emerging solutions to fossil fuel pollution.
West Virginia Wind Power & National Energy Policy
Bipartisan support for wind power is also found on Capitol Hill. This has been embraced in part by Senator Kevin Cramer, R-ND, who has a General Electric wind farm manufacturing plant in his home State.
Manchin has been meeting with a small but vocal group of Republicans in the Senate to discuss the possibility for a bipartisan climate package and energy package. The group recently discussed the tax credits for clean energy that were included in President Biden’s Social spending bill stalled. Cornelius declined to comment after the inaugural event in an interview. Manchin’s opposition to Biden’s spending bill. But he warned that, if Congress fails to extend those tax credits, the clean energy developer’s plans for more projects in West Virginia could be significantly slowed.
“We definitely won’t be able to build everything that we’ve planned here in West Virginia as fast as we could if [the credits] are not coming,” Cornelius warned. “Those incentives are the difference between whether a project gets built in the next 2 years or the next 8.”
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