- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler says he’s attending a briefing for state lawmakers with President Barack Obama and staffers.

At the White House Wednesday, Kessler says he’ll discuss initiatives to diversify the economy in the struggling southern coalfields.

Kessler says an Obama budget push would significantly impact the coalfields. The $5 billion plan over five years targets workforce development, pensions, abandoned mine reclamation and carbon capture technology.

Kessler said “it would be foolish not to go” convey West Virginia’s concerns to Obama. Obama is unpopular in West Virginia for social and environmental stances, including pushes to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants to combat climate change.

Kessler and billionaire coal businessman Jim Justice are Democratic gubernatorial candidates for 2016.

Senate President Bill Cole is the best-known Republican candidate.

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