Governor Jim Justice expressed concern and support for the people of Ukraine during his pandemic briefing on Friday, but also said it should be a wake-up call for the country to become energy independent.
“We offer our prayers,” he said, referring to the situation in Ukraine, a country bombarded by far superior Russian forces. “It’s really, really, really sad.”
Justice said what the Russian President. Vladimir Putin wants to do is to restore the former USSR (United Soviet Socialist Republic), of which Ukraine was a part until 1991.
A “marriage” between China and Russia could make matters worse, he added. “This thing could get really bad. It’s dangerous.”
Justice said it’s time to ’embrace’ all forms of energy and that the Biden administration must do a fossil fuel ‘reset’ as Russian aggression shows how energy can be” militarized”.
Energy independence means using coal and gas and all forms of energy to reach a point of independence, he said.
“This country must be totally energy independent. Without a doubt, if that were the case, we would feel better, stronger and better off.
Justice said the American people would understand an energy reset that maximizes uses of fossil fuel reserves, with renewables still in demand.
Climate change can be solved “intelligently and scientifically,” he said, “but let’s be energy independent first.”
The justice said the pipeline (Mountain Valley Pipeline) should be completed in West Virginia, as well as the Keystone pipeline in the West.
Some “really bad actors” are there, he said of people like Putin, who can pose threats to energy supplies around the world, making energy independence crucial.
This is also not the time to “throw stones”, he said, but to work together.
At the same time, renewable energy sources continue to be sought.
Justice said he met Friday morning with people in the energy industry as well as U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., to discuss locating a “hub hydrogen” in West Virginia.
Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
Hydrogen reacts with oxygen through an electrochemical cell similar to that of a battery to produce electricity, water and small amounts of heat.
Manchin has been touting hydrogen as a clean energy source for several years.
Capito said in a recent interview that she also believes now is the time to pursue energy independence.
“It was a good first meeting,” Justice said, adding that work will continue to try to secure a hub in the state.
The facility, which would be one of several regional centers across the country, would be funded by $9.5 billion allocated to the US Department of Energy through the infrastructure bill.
“I know we can win,” he said. “We can solve these problems.”
— Contact Charles Boothe at [email protected]