U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., added $2.5 million to an appropriations bill, recently signed into law, to continue a unique program at West Virginia University (WVU) that trains mechanics in operations related to the alternative fuels industry.

By providing the coal that has powered our nation, West Virginia has been, and remains, a leader in the energy field. But as the economy changes and old industries give way to new, it is important to provide our workers with the skills necessary to compete.

WVU s National Alternative Fuels Training Program is at the forefront of these efforts,Byrd said.

The National Alternative Fuels Training Program is a model pilot initiative that strives to decrease the dependence on foreign oil by promoting, supporting, and expanding the use of alternative fuel vehicles. The program is responsible for the training of auto mechanics and vocational, technical, and high school instructors on the installation and operations related to the alternative fuel vehicle industry.

This training program is especially important to the young people of our state because it builds on the latest high-tech innovations in the field of alternative fuels, ensuring that West Virginians maintain a competitive edge in energy-related industries,Byrd stated.

Byrd has obtained funding for the National Alternative Fuels Training Program at WVU since its inception in 1992. Last year, he added $1.5 million to an appropriations bill for this program.