Published October 1966 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd Room 342, Old Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. Volume VI - Number 41 October 14, 1966 Byrd's Eye View A Public Service Column by Senator Robert C. Byrd COAL NEWS Coal has been much in the news of late, with a spate of items appearing in newspapers, periodicals, trade journals, and governmental reports. Coal-oriented West Virginians have likely found themselves involved in assaying the full import of the facts upon the interests of the State. As an example, one current industrial report stated: "Bituminous coal continues to be West Virginia's most valuable single asset. West Virginia's bituminous is a high-quality coal, with a wide variety of uses, and the total reserves are estimated at 103 million short tons, about 6.2 percent of all coal reserves for the Nation. Yet, at present, only about half of these are classified as recoverable. A larger fraction should become available over time, as technology continues to improve." Elsewhere, a newspaper story pointed out that the U. S. mineral demand is anticipated to double the consumption of minerals and mineral fuels in the coming 15 to 25 years. It further speculated as to how long presently known supplies would last, emphasizing that the supply problem is compounded by certain-to-occur population growth and attendant rises in per capita consumption of raw materials and energy. And a current Department of Interior report addressed itself to a similar theme--stating the belief that the world's undeveloped resources are large enough to support growing demands for the foreseeable future, provided Nations "aggressively and imaginatively press the search for knowledge of resources and for ways to discover, extract, and use them more effectively." In yet another instance, a publication carrying reliable geological prospecting information announced, “Soviet coal resources account for 216,000 million tons out of the 987,000 million tons of world coal resource, with about 140,000 million tons of the highest grade discovered in Siberia. Presently, a substantial part of these deposits are situated in areas difficult to mine, because of the eternal frost and impassable virgin forest. In the U.S.S.R., need exists for development of the technology of mining, preparation, and transportation of coal to permit greater exploitation of coal resources.” West Virginians may well ask, "How does all of this affect our State, and our Nation?" And the answer is: “Within the United States, and within West Virginia, one of our Nation's major coal repositories, research must be intensified, to permit our citizenry to stay abreast of the demands generated by fast-changing times, both from within our own borders and from competition abroad. Aggressive attention to research in coal utilization is imperative. The Government and industry must increase efforts to improve coal's position in the energy market as international challenges materialize.” The U.S.S.R., a streamlined, automated, industrial giant of a nation has already demonstrated its ruthless drive to higher and greater production levels, utilizing research as a powerful tool to advance the national interests. Can the United States afford to do less?