WHEELING – West Virginia Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld is in Germany attending an international discussion about energy policy.
Weld, R-Brooke, was invited to participate in the Aspen Institute Germany’s Transatlantic Laboratories of Democracy Initiative happening this week in Schwerin, Germany.
The same American and German leaders will gather again in the fall for a second program on U.S. soil in Trenton, New Jersey.
The program brings together seven U.S. state legislators and seven German state parliament members to exchange ideas on how to tackle current international policy challenges. Energy policy is the designated topic for discussion at this week’s program, according to Weld.
“The topic is what interested me,” Weld said. “The focus of the seminar is energy and climate change policies, and I thought West Virginia”s interests should be represented. That’s what made me want to be part of the discussion.”
He fully expects his thoughts and opinions promoting fossil fuels won’t make him popular with the German members of parliament, who favor climate change policy and are mostly opposed to the use of coal for energy.
But Weld also suspects the Germans may be forced to change their mind on the use of fossil energy sources.
He explained at the start of the war in Ukraine, German officials made the decision to no longer purchase natural gas from Russia.
This week, the German government also dismissed suggestions it might activate the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany to compensate for reduced flows to Germany via Ukraine.
“They are in a bind,” Weld said. “During the time (former Chancellor Angela Merkel) was in power, they became overly reliant on Russian exports of oil and gas for energy production. Now they are having a difficult time separating themselves, and are forced to find other opportunities.
“Germany is a very large country. It is the economic powerhouse of the European Union. Other countries are in the same situation, but not to the same extent.”
Weld said he received an email in February from the Aspen Institute Germany inviting him to participate in their the initiative, and explaining its purpose. A zoom call with the Aspen Institute Germany followed, during which they offered him a formal invitation.
Weld is the first member of the West Virginia Legislature selected to participate in the program, and it won’t be the first time he has stayed in the country.
Weld was stationed in Germany in 2008 while in the U.S. Air Force.
“I look forward to going back. It’s a beautiful country,” he said. “They have respect for Americans, and I found it a hospitable place.
“I am looking forward to telling West Virginia’s story, and the role we play in producing America’s energy. People don’t always get that perspective when telling these topics,” Weld added.