Washington picking winners, losers on energy front
Guiding Washington policy these days seems to be the philosophy of picking winners and losers, and it is an approach that is doing significant harm to West Virginia because of its effects on the state’s natural resource industries. One example is the Obama Administration’s recent upward recalculation of the “social cost of carbon.” As reported by Politico, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill: “The Administration revealed the change in the quietest way possible, outlining the new cost estimate on Page 409 of Appendix 16A of a technical support document for an Energy Department regulation on microwave ovens.”
California Republican Duncan Hunter alleges that the calculation of cost was manipulated “to justify sprawling new regulations.” Along with Representative Nick Rahall, Hunter is drafting legislation that would require changes in cost-benefit calculations done transparently and with notice to and input from the public.
West Virginia’s oil and gas industries, along with coal, are the targets of constant regulatory focus by the Obama administration. We are seeing the impacts in the Mountain State of decisions by the president to push his global warming agenda through regulations because he cannot persuade Congress to enact laws that embody his political vision. Just recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down an EPA rule that exempted carbon dioxide emissions from paper and wood product industries and ethanol producers from regulations mandating curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. So while West Virginia’s extractive industries are under assault because of carbon dioxide emissions, certain favored industries should be exempt, according to the Administration. The court ruled otherwise.
One of the benefits of promoting and increasing oil and gas development in West Virginia is that it helps to decouple American energy requirements from OPEC. Even in its publications OPEC recognizes that advances in technologies for extracting oil and natural gas from shale is reducing our dependence on its producing countries. Another benefit is the potential for significantly improving the state’s economy. While the fortunes of North Dakota are not directly translatable to West Virginia, it is instructive to consider what is happening in that state as a result of energy development.
In its July report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports significant gains in the state’s Gross Domestic Product per capita coinciding with development of the Bakken Shale. In 2012, the state’s GDP was 29 percent higher than the national average. The U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that North Dakota’s GDP in 2012 was 11 percent higher than the year before compared with the national growth rate of less than 2 percent. West Virginia’s GDP rose a shade over 3 percent. West Virginia energy holds the promise of a better Mountain State economy. We have the potential to supply more of our country’s energy requirements and to export a portion of our energy products. And this leads to the creation of jobs and increased economic activity at every level of our society.
But that requires that governmental actions have the goal of enhancing the development and use of our abundant resources — yes, in an environmentally responsible manner—rather than shutting them in. The government’s “social cost of carbon” calculations —done in a bureaucrat’s back room office without input from or examination by affected parties and hidden deep inside a technical report — are a hammer intended not to build but to knock down our energy resource industries.
Nicholas “Corky” DeMarco,
West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association
Mutton busting no fun for kids
The moms and dads of the little “mutton busters” at last week’s Jefferson County Fair puzzle me: What was obvious to most observers, but the parents evidently didn’t realize, was : 1) it was scary, maybe even terrifying, for those young children to ride bareback on a running sheep; 2) the 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds’ fears were well founded, since they knew they were going to fall, and other hazards threatened, like getting slammed against a railing by the careening sheep; and 3) upon dropping off the sheep’s back, the child would land almost directly underneath a heavy (100-150 pound) hoofed, running animal!
Despite the helmets, “mutton-busting” is not in a league with learning to ride a bike or playing football against kids of similar size. This is dangerous “fun” and what their parents seemed most clueless about was that most of these kids weren’t having fun.
I didn’t want to stick around Saturday’s contest long enough to see if anybody broke a bone or took a hoof to the groin, but I think I understand why some people in the audience found this event fun – they weren’t thinking about anything except how cute the kids were as they held on tight for a fearsome ride. Like the event organizers, they weren’t using their heads to realize that just because something is cute and some misguided parents encourage it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Think about it. When such little children “compete” in a hazardous sport it really isn’t cute. And when they do it to entertain adults who should know better, it’s appalling.
On Aug. 2 at 11:15 p.m., I called 911 to report a noise and alcohol violation for campers at Moulton Park. We were camping at Lot 9 and the violators were camping at Lot 10. We had arrived at the campground at approximately 3 p.m. Our neighbors arrived shortly afterwards and immediately began drinking beer in the open, clearly violating the no alcohol policy outlined in the posted park rules. The two young men were joined by two other couples with two children. As the afternoon and evening wore on, they began playing music from their vehicle. As it became later, the volume of the music and their antics grew increasingly loud and distracting. Not wanting to cause any ill will, we decided to retire at 10:30 p.m. and hope that they would soon tire. Unfortunately, the music, singing and whooping and hollering only became louder. At 11:15 p.m., my husband went over and politely asked them to please keep it down a little. This was met with hostility and derision. Immediately upon my husband’s return to the tent, the music was turned up yet again in response to our request.
I decided that law enforcement was now needed and called 911. A representative of the Sheriff’s Department arrived shortly afterwards. We were unaware of exactly what was said between the violators and the responding officer, but it seemed quite congenial. The violators turned their music completely off when the officer arrived. Immediately after the officer left is when the situation escalated. The music was turned way up and the verbal threats began. We were told not to fall asleep and asked why we had to call the cops. “Don’t fall asleep” and “Just wait until morning” are two of the direct quotes I heard. The more inebriated they became, the more frightened I became. I left the tent and returned to our vehicle and called 911 again. I was at least 100 yards from our tent at this time and the dispatcher could clearly hear the verbal abuse and music coming from their site.
Here are a couple of direct quotes from this so called officer. “People come to the river for all kinds of reasons. They came to unwind.” “Legally they can play their music at 60 decibels for 40 minutes and as long as they turn it down for 20 minutes, there is nothing I can do.” This is despite the posted quiet hours of the park. As to their consumption and display of alcohol where it is clearly prohibited he said “I can ask them to put it away.” He also commented “You can wait until they pass out and then play your music really loud at 9 a.m.”
You have got to be kidding me that this came out of an officer of the law! He then said that he would not nor could not ask them to leave and if we had issues with this he suggested we leave. He said he could not guarantee our safety. We were in no way breaking any laws or posted rules of the park, yet we would be asked to leave. Since we were genuinely scared to remain, we did just that. At midnight we began to clear our campsite in the dark at midnight. The officer did remain on scene at a distance to ensure our safety while we did this. The entire time we were tearing our campsite down and packing our truck, the verbal abuse from the locals continued, although the officer was too far away to hear it.
We will never return to Moulton Park, nor will we return to Jefferson County and the entire state of West Virginia. We are both under the impression that since we were outsiders, we were not welcome. We are convinced that this officer knew the violators or was related to them. Additionally, we were asked to identify ourselves but were never offered a written report of this incident.
Dawn C. Dehlinger