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Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, Landisburg, West Virginia. (Image: Frank Kehren via Flickr - CC2.0)

West Virginia Editorial Roundup

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

The Exponent Telegram on the energy industry:

March 30

For years, we’ve heard that the United States needs to become energy independent. And now, with the strength of the Marcellus and Utica natural gas formations, the country is closer than ever to reaching that goal.

Historians and policymakers have said for decades that the U.S. — and the world — would be safer if we didn’t have to deal with Middle East oil reserves.

The development of natural gas, along with its sister product, oil, and other energy sources including coal could put the U.S. in a position where it controls the energy marketplace.

But that only happens if our own leaders get out of the way and allow it to happen.

The Obama administration’s flawed logic of marginalizing coal before other power sources are developed has dampened the economy, especially in West Virginia and other coal-producing states.

Don’t get us wrong. We believe that the United States should take a lead position in the development of cleaner energy sources. But the key word there is development. Right now, we can’t afford to shut down coal.

And let’s face it: Already the talk has turned to restrictions on natural gas because some environmentalists believe it’s not as clean as other potential sources.

Here’s the reality: Natural resources such as coal, oil and natural gas have been engines that have driven the world since the advent of power-driven engines and electric heating.

Don’t believe it? Just look at the war aims of aggressors Germany and Japan in World War II.

Germany, roughly the size of Montana, needed more natural resources to continue to fuel the rapid growth it saw in the 1930s. So it began gobbling up countries and eventually turned on the one place that could guarantee it such resources almost in perpetuity: The Soviet Union.

Japan, not quite as big as California, was almost totally devoid of energy resources, and thus expanded throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific to capture such resources as oil and rubber.

So here we are in the 21st century, and the United States is playing by one set of rules regarding the energy industry, and the rest of the world has another set.

The next president of the United States really has only two choices.

One is to put Obama’s energy initiatives behind and get back to a level playing field in energy production and exploration with the countries that don’t appear to give a whit about the planet’s atmosphere. Or, two, use the bully pulpit of the White House to get those countries to change too.

Alone, the United States and a few other countries with a conscience won’t be enough to make a meaningful difference in damage to the atmosphere (again, if you believe the science).

Especially not if some of the world’s most populous areas aren’t cooperating.

We believe that the next president must bring us back to reality in terms of energy policy, using available resources like coal and natural gas to continue to churn the nation’s economy.

And while the nation powers back to being the world’s industrial leader, we should put our best scientists to work finding ways to use all natural resources in cleaner, more efficient manners.

One thing’s certain: The United States and West Virginia can’t thrive without coal and natural gas.

Here’s hoping the next president and Congress understand that.

Online: http://www.theet.com/

The Inter Mountain on Environmental Protection Agency rules in West Virginia:

March 30

Rules established by the Environmental Protection Agency — without the consent of Congress — already have devastated entire counties in West Virginia. Tens of thousands of Mountain State residents have suffered at the EPA’s hands. Much more damage is on the agency’s agenda.

So U.S. Rep. David McKinley wanted to know last week what EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy knows about our state.

“Have you ever visited the West Virginia coalfields or been in a West Virginia coal power plant?”?McKinley asked McCarthy during a hearing in the House of Representatives.

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“Have you ever been in one in Kentucky or Wyoming?” McKinley persisted.

“No, sir.”

So, McKinley pointed out, “you’re never really touching base with the people that you’re affecting their lives.”

McCarthy had no answer for that.

But McKinley was not finished. He next asked McCarthy what she knew about the Longview Power Plant in Maidsville. It is “one of the most efficient, if not the most efficient” coal-fired power plants in the nation, the congressman pointed out.

McCarthy knows nothing about Longview, she freely admitted to our congressman.

McCarthy, her boss President Barack Obama and others in Washington dedicated to killing the coal industry and reasonably priced electricity do not care about the facts.

And clearly, they do not care about the people they are hurting, either.

It is too bad a bill signed into law last week by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin does not go into effect until mid-June. Had the measure become enforceable before the school year ends, police and sheriff’s deputies could have set a few examples during the next couple of months.

Tomblin signed a bill approved overwhelmingly by legislators earlier this year. It stiffens penalties for motorists who pass stopped school buses. It also makes it easier to enforce the law in situations involving drivers who cannot be identified but whose vehicle license plate numbers are captured by bus-mounted cameras.

It is standard practice for most bills approved by the Legislature to go into effect only after delays of a few months. No doubt everyone involved in this one would have liked it to be enforced immediately.

With infuriating frequency, motorists all over West Virginia ignore the law requiring them to refrain from passing stopped school buses. Accidents are reported regularly. It is a miracle — not a small one — no children have been killed this school year.

But eventually, it will happen unless something is done to deter motorists from passing stopped school buses. That was the motivation behind the bill.

The sooner it can be enforced, the better. Once it goes into effect, law enforcement agencies, magistrates and judges should come down as hard as possible on the scofflaws who endanger our children.

Online: http://www.theintermountain.com/

The Intelligencer on the state superintendent:

March 30

What if you needed a new state superintendent of schools and no one had applied for the job?

That might be a good thing.

Ohio has had an opening since Dec. 31, when former Superintendent Richard Ross retired. Associate Superintendent Lonny Rivera has been filling in, but has said he does not want the position permanently.

In seeking a new superintendent, board members set an April 8 deadline for applications. By this week, no one had applied, though there reportedly had been some inquiries.

It is not as though the job is not well-compensated. The base salary is $195,000 a year and there has been talk of increasing it.

But leadership of Ohio’s public schools comes with a plateful of challenges, too. They range from improving school quality to ensuring education officials tell the truth about performance.

That may have something to do with why the state board has not received applications for the top job.

If so, good. This is not a position for those not willing to tackle tough issues, some of them political. It is not a job for someone wedded to the old education bureaucracy, or for someone reluctant to step on toes.

Ohioans need a top-notch public education leader, not someone accustomed to the old go-along-to-get-along mentality. They need someone eager to shake things up for the good of the Buckeye State.

Eventually, that person can be found — and state board members should make that, not meeting their June timeline, their priority.

Online: http://www.theintelligencer.net/

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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