West Virginia is an absolutely beautiful state...mostly.  There are 36 state parks,  8 state forests, the New River Gorge national park, part of the Appalachian Trail, and general beauty all around.  Take a meandering drive down just about any road and you'll see spectacular views.  West Virginia's heritage has been shaped by the mountains and hills that permeate this land.

That said, West Virginia has also been taken advantage of.  Extractive industries -- particularly, coal -- have imposed huge costs.  Not only has the coal mining method known as Mountaintop Removal destroyed 352,000 acres (135 mountains), but there have been toxic spills of coal ash and other chemicals into the rivers.  Industrial air pollution is also a major issue.  West Virginia's poorest communities have been hit the hardest.  Cancer is the number one killer in West Virginia, whereas heart disease is number one for the nation as a whole.

Nevertheless, Governor Justice, the West Virginia legislature, and the WV Attorney General continue to fight the EPA at every turn.  Coal must continue to dominate West Virginia's industries at all costs.  Biden's recent move to put a hold on liquid natural gas (LNG) exports has also raised the  ire of West Virginia's federal legislators.  Some WV legislators actually want to make it easier for companies who have abandoned their oil and gas wells to walk away from those wells, not properly plugging them.  These wells leak methane into atmosphere, contributing to Climate Change.  Stubbornly sticking to past methods of generating exportable energy in this state is disastrous, not just for the state, but for the entire world.

We cannot afford to ignore the reality of Climate Change.  Indeed, we should have started paying attention along time ago.  West Virginia needs to concentrate on bringing clean industries to the state (and hydrogen, alas, is not one of them).  While the newest industries in West Virginia seem headed in the right direction (toward cleaner manufacturing), pollution (or the lack thereof ) ought to be the legislature's first priority when looking to attract new industries to West Virginia.  Further, rather than spending time fighting the EPA's pollution cutting regulations, West Virginia needs to get with the picture and eliminate coal, and even natural gas, from its energy exports.  And we shouldn't be promoting hydrogen, either.  Further, the legislature should allocate real money to cleaning up the pollution generated by past extractive activities, as we clearly cannot rely on the responsible parties to clean up their messes.


Environmental concerns vs. Equity: As noted above, the worst pollution remains in the poorest communities.  These communities should be receiving the lions share of cleanup funds.

Environmental concerns vs. Education:  It is through education that the need for clean energy becomes apparent.  Additionally, students taught to value the environment will be more likely to prioritize environmental concerns when creatively working to solve the state's economic issues.  Additionally, it is difficult, if not impossible, for children exposed to toxic waste to learn properly.  These children may also be experiencing familial issues as older members of their families succumb to diseases brought on by toxic exposures.

Environmental concerns vs. Economy: At first blush, it may seem these two would not be complementary, but they are.  These days most industries are looking to reduce their carbon footprint.  As such, they are in search of places that can provide electricity generated by renewables.  The more WV can brag about solar and wind farm power, the more WV will be able to attract these industries.