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WVU Energy Conference to focus on coal state transitions

Energy Conference photoThe fifth annual national energy conference at West Virginia University will focus on the impacts of the global energy transition on coal communities in the state and Central Appalachia.

The conference takes place on Friday, April 8, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the WVU College of Law. It will feature experts from industry, public policy organizations, environmental groups, and academic institutions. Former Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) will deliver the keynote address.

The conference is sponsored by the College of Law’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development and WVU’s John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics.

Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. Registration for lunch is required via the conference website.

The energy conference will begin to examine the effect of trends in the coal industry, the economy-wide repercussions within Central Appalachia, and possible solutions that would put West Virginia on a resilient path forward. It will also look at the convergence of energy and environmental policies and their impact on the region’s citizens.

Speakers at the energy conference include Charles Patton, president and COO of Appalachian Power; Mike Gerrard, director of Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law; Adele Morris, senior fellow and policy director for the Climate and Energy Economics Project at the Brookings Institution; Trevor Houser, Energy Policy Advisor, Hillary for America; Keith Burdette, Cabinet Secretary, West Virginia Department of Commerce; and John Deskins, director of WVU’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Organizations represented by panelists at the conference include United Mineworkers, World Resources Institute, the Rockefeller Family Fund, Benedum Foundation, Sustainable Pittsburgh, Rural Policy Research Institute, Coalfield Development Corporation, Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, and the law firms of Bowles Rice and Jackson Kelly.

With sharp declines in coal production, there is a pressing need to continue to diversify the West Virginia’s economy and step up to protect the state’s most significantly impacted communities.

 “It is time to take an open, honest look at the seismic transitions we face, and decide how we will take control of our future,” said Rockefeller. “We can and must both protect the needs of our coal reliant communities and build a resilient economy while we reduce our carbon footprint globally.”

Jamie Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, points out that the global energy transition is driving changes in the region’s economies, energy resources, and regulations. 

“World market forces compel us to think about new opportunities and new challenges for West Virginia,” he said. “Our families, community leaders, state agencies, non-profit organizations and federal delegation are all confronted with unprecedented changes that will require us to collectively contribute to building well-crafted solutions and charting a smart course ahead. This conference will examine where we are and where we want to be as we move forward.”

About the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development

Founded in 2011, the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at the WVU College of Law conducts objective, unbiased research and policy analyses; provides a forum for issues to be explored by stakeholders; and promotes policies that strike a balance between the development of energy resources and protection of the valuable air and water supplies upon which future generations will depend. The Center’s previous national energy conferences have explored the challenges of balancing environmental preservation and economic profitability in the development of shale gas resources, the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the implications of water protection on energy production. 

About the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics

The John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics is the only multi-disciplinary, degree granting policy school linked to a robust political archives collection in the country. By formally linking the WVU departments of Political Science and Public Administration and the degree programs in International Studies, Leadership Studies, and Legal Studies, the school provides students with a top-quality education in these fields; produce cutting-edge research with important prescriptive implications; and work with partners in the university community and government offices to support the creation of wise public policies that will improve the quality of life for West Virginians and people around the world.