As former CEO of two major power companies in West Virginia, Charles Bayless may not seem like the poster boy for climate change advocacy. Yet in the wake of Obama’s unprecedented Georgetown speech, Bayless is using his position as a major player in a coal-producing state to speak in favor of the president’s agenda.
"If you're a West Virginian and a coal company and you're denying climate change, it's sort of like denying you've got cancer and hoping it will get better,” the Public News Service quoted Bayless as saying. “It won't. And the longer you deny it, the worse the fall will be.”
This is not Bayless’ first time voicing his support for climate action. "The [climate change] debate is in some of the popular press but it is not in the scientific community," he said in 2011, according to The State Journal.
"The extra heat [in the Earth's atmosphere] is equal to about 13 Hiroshima-size bombs every second. You obviously can't put that much energy into any kind of a system and not have something change," Bayless said. He went on to state that climate change is anthropogenic, and science, not politics, holds the key to survival.
However, Bayless believes the government does have some power in the matter, and says he is "100 percent in favor of global cap and trade."
Not all West Virginians hold the same beliefs as Bayless. The day after Obama’s climate and energy speech this week, West Virginia senator Joe Manchin went on the radio to voice his opposition to the president’s climate change plan, calling it “irresponsible” and saying it would kill jobs.
Even without his senator’s political support, Bayless remains undeterred. The trained electrical engineer has a series of YouTube lectures explaining climate change and what needs to be done to address it.