Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:24PM - 480 Views

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Chad Abshire

Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two West Virginia Congressmen met with the Wyoming County Circuit Clerk to discuss the importance of promoting coal production in West Virginia and across America.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (both D-W.Va.) spoke with David “Bugs” Stover, who walked to the nation’s capitol to speak to the Congressmen. This was Stover’s third walk to Washington raising awareness about the importance of coal to West Virginia’s economy.

“Throughout my whole life, there have always been ups and downs in the coal industry, and we’ve always gotten through them,” Stover said. “But now, we are fighting to survive in an industry where we know we can diversify, but not as quickly as the government expects us to. In Wyoming County and across West Virginia, we are fighting for a commonsense balance between the government and the economy to survive.”

Manchin called it a pleasure to speak with Stover, saying there was “no one else who fights for coal,” like he does.

“As I’ve always said, you can live with coal or you can live without coal – but you can live a whole lot better with it than without it. There’s no getting around it: if we’re going to be energy independent, coal will play a vital role in an all-of-the-above energy approach,” Manchin said. “I enjoyed sharing with Bugs this simple fact: if anyone thinks getting rid of coal in the United States will clean up the environment, they believe the world is flat. There’s eight billions tons of coal being burned in the world every year – half of it by China.

“What we really need to do is work together – not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans – to create an energy policy that uses all of our resources, including using our coal, natural gas, wind, nuclear, solar, biomass and other fuels of the future.

Stover also met with Rahall, who welcomed Stover to Washington after his first coal walk more than 30 years ago.

“Those who look at Bugs’ march to Washington as long and lonely are only half right,” Rahall said. “By any stretch, the years haven’t made the journey any shorter, but whether they know it or not, Bugs marched with millions who benefit from coal.

Rahall met with Stover on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in 1980, when Stover first walked to Washington carrying a bucket of coal to raise awareness about the nation’s energy independence.

“I met with Congressman Rahall and he assured me that he will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats to bring change in the EPA’s position on coal and coal-fired electricity. Coal is not dead,” Stover said.

“Bugs cares passionately about our coal miners and families, and he understands well the importance of coal to our State in providing miners with a means to earn an honest living and provide for their families. Bugs won’t ever give up on fighting for our coal miners, and neither will I.”

Over the years, Stover has embarked on several treks – either on foot or on bicycle – to promote important causes. Earlier this year, Stover rode his bike approximately 90 miles from Mullens to Charleston to promote living healthier lifestyles on behalf of the West Virginia Association of Counties’ Healthy Counties. He has also walked to highlight West Virginia’s redistricting plan, to advance the construction of the Coalfields Expressway and to protest the Kyoto Protocol.

“I admire Bugs’ persistence in making every effort to keep the hope alive to rebuilding a thriving economy in Wyoming County and across our great state,” Manchin said. “I know Bugs is willing to walk to the ends of the Earth to get it done.”

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