Senator Rockefeller has long believed that we need to develop a comprehensive and responsible national energy policy to make our country more energy secure. This includes making sure that coal is a key part of our energy future, just as it has been an essential part of West Virginia’s history. Coal currently provides nearly half of our nation’s electricity and Senator Rockefeller believes it is one of the greatest hopes our country has for achieving greater energy security. The energy content of the U.S. coal reserves exceeds the energy of all the world’s oil reserves combined.
By acknowledging coal’s challenges, and continuing important investments in the research and development of clean coal technology, Senator Rockefeller believes we can make coal, and the jobs that come along with it, a critical part of our energy future for decades to come. He also believes that we must continue further investments in alternative and renewable energy sources, as well as natural gas which has great potential in the state and must work with coal to help the state thrive. All of these energies could make West Virginia a national and global leader in creating sources of power that are affordable, reliable, domestic, and increasingly clean.
More than any resource, West Virginia’s greatest asset is its people – including our brave and dedicated coal miners. Senator Rockefeller has been a leading champion for protecting health care benefits for miners and their families. He played a crucial role in passing the Coal Act of 1992 - the landmark legislation in which Congress established a health benefits fund for the nation's coal miners. Senator Rockefeller has also long been an advocate for coal miners suffering from Black Lung, as well as their spouses. He has sponsored legislation that would allow the thousands of retired miners and their families in West Virginia to receive benefits without re-filing claims or having to reprove their spouse died as a result of Black Lung disease.