Saturday, January 15, 2011

The ascension to the throne

West Virginia is only one of a handful of states operating in the black. Why? Is it because West Virginia is endowed with an abundance of visionary leaders? NO! It's because West Virginia is endowed with an abundance of natural resources--resources that have been allowed to be exploited for generations, by politicians who feel they have dominion over the bounties that nature has given to us all.

In bygone days, when gas was first discovered in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, it was common practice to bleed ailing patients in an attempt to save their lives. In most cases, bleeding had the opposite effect. This same practice is applied to our state and its natural resources, having the same adverse results. In an attempt to keep West Virginia out of the red, our politicians are willing to bleed her dry.

The time must come when selling off priceless ecosystems is not the only way to maintain fiscal solvency. If not, we can drop the "Wonderful" from our state motto, "Wild, Wonderful West Virginia," and just become "Wild West Virginia." Today's politicians are betraying future generations by robbing them of their rich natural heritage. For what? Thirty pieces of silver?

We need only look toward our oracles in Charleston to understand that the more things change, the more they remain the same. West Virginia's politicians have enacted few regulations pertaining to the exploration and exploitation of Marcellus shale gas. Why? Sen. Mike Green (D-Raleigh), Chairman of the Senate Energy Industry and Mining Committee: "We welcome that industry with open arms . . . I think the industry itself will be willing to come and do it right." He also said he felt that West Virginia wouldn't have the same problems as New York, because we have an abundance of water. Is he that out of touch? The moratorium in New York had nothing to do with a lack of water, but instead, the poisoning of drinking water for millions of New Yorkers.

As a legislative interim committee discussed two proposed bills pertaining to shale gas exploitation, they decided to forward one plan without recommending its passing. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protections Bill was not forwarded, so at this point it will not be part of the Legislative Agenda. This bill would have added sorely needed inspectors to monitor the largely unregulated gas industry.

Lobbyist for the gas industry, Corky DeMarco, questioned whether the industry could afford the ten- to fifteen-thousand-dollar per well permit fee--a fee that is now a paltry $400 to $650. This is an industry that has the potential to make millions of dollars from each well. They must've misread Joe's sign as, "West Virginia is Open for The Business."

As King Coal is in its death throes after being bled profusely, Mega Gas, its heir apparent, is positioning to ascend to the throne. We can hear the chant coming out of Charleston, "The King is dead! Long live the King!"

Let the genuflecting begin.

--Jim Dodgins

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