Rep. Shelley Moore Capito said colleagues from states that don't produce coal need to know the mineral's value in energy production and the economy.
Capito, R-Charleston, announced this week she again will serve as co-chair of the Congressional Coal Caucus for the 113th Congress, along with Reps. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, Ill., and William Enyart, D-Belleville, Ill. Local Reps. David B. McKinley, R-Wheeling, and Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, Ohio, also are among the 65 members of the Congressional Coal Caucus.
"We are really about trying to educate other members about coal and the vital uses of coal - not just as an energy source, but its role in our economy. They also need to see there are jobs from other industries that are related to the coal," Capito said, citing the electric and rail industries. "You form a caucus to make your voices louder and stronger."
The caucus plans to call in expert witnesses to give presentations to members and their staffs, she continued.
"We find it is useful to talk about the economic implications and security issues involving coal and how it contributes to our energy and manufacturing base," Capito said. "Some people don't have states that mine coal - and for them, coal has taken on a negative connotation. We have to educate people about the power of coal."
She sees the caucus as "a rapid response team" poised to fight if needed against stricter regulation of the coal industry and coal-fired power plants.
"We have to play offense in terms of providing scientific-based education," Capito said. "At the same time, we have to play defense and make sure policies moving forward are not damaging to coal areas or states."