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OPINION: We can finally power ourselves, if we only let us

OPINION: We can finally power ourselves, if we only let us

The State Journal

OPINION: We can finally power ourselves, if we only let us

The recently completed IOGA-WV winter conference shed tremendous light on the oil and natural gas industries in West Virginia and the efforts the businesses in the industry are making to remain environmentally friendly and economically viable.

And it’s been a struggle.

Market forces, regulatory and legal battles, as well as other challenging economic factors, have made the industry difficult to navigate.

We’ve seen some companies sold; others go out of business.

But for many of these long-time West Virginia companies, it’s just the normal flow of business. There are highs and there are lows. Managing the good with the bad is just what they do.

And on the whole, the majority of these companies are great corporate citizens.

Their employees are West Virginians, and they care about the state — and yes, the environment.

They are often the first to jump in when communities or groups need help. We can think of many, many instances where these oil and gas companies are leading the way with United Way drives, school fundraising and other civic improvements.

That’s what troubles us most when their businesses are threatened by overzealous environmentalists and critics who really don’t have a viable answer for now.

Don’t get us wrong. Green energy is the way of the future.

But the future is not now. And the United States, thanks to natural gas, domestic drilled oil and the remnants of the coal industry, can shed its independence of foreign resources for power generation.

Let’s emphasize that again: With natural gas, the oil byproducts, other domestic drilling and coal, as well as the emerging Green Energy sources of wind, solar, hydro and nuclear, the U.S. can have a truly independent energy policy.

In fact, most reports indicate that the U.S. import of foreign oil was at an all-time low since 1957, down to nearly 10 percent. And that is with plenty of domestic oil untapped.

With these factors in mind, it is foolhardy to abandon what has been blessed at our feet. The goal should be to find the most environmentally friendly ways to drill and transport.

And we believe that is occurring more often than not.

That’s not to say that there are the occasional bad actors. And those in that category give all a bad name.

But the majority are strong companies with deep local roots. Their employees are from here or have moved here.

They don’t want to ruin the state’s scenic beauty or soil the waterways with pollutants.

IOGAWV Vice President Ben Sullivan emphasized those points during the conference.

“The quality of life in West Virginia is important to us all,” he said. “We all live here and our families all live here. We want a clean environment, clean water and air and we are committed to the state’s success and future.”

The continued development of the state’s natural gas and oil reserves is critical to the state’s ability to stabilize the economy and keep residents here, and hopefully potentially grow.

That isn’t lost of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who has led a number of fights to oppose overregulation.

“If we could get the Atlantic Coast Pipeline back up online and bring in the many hundreds of thousands of jobs paying $25-$40 per hour, it would be significant for the economy,” he said.

“There is over $300 million of local tax revenue impacted by the pipeline. Imagine what local municipalities and counties could do with the additional funding, whether it be hiring an additional deputy sheriff or more time into studying the opioid epidemic to find a solution.”

As 2020 unfolds into primary and general election season, it is imperative that West Virginians keep these factors in mind, a fact that was stressed to the more than 400 people in attendance at the conference.

We need leaders who value and understand the current situation, while keeping a eye to the future.

We need leaders who support efforts to find cleaner ways to burn the readily available fuel source, while development of other Green Energy sources continues.

We need people with vision, not party rhetoric and utopian hopes and dreams.

We need national and state energy policies that keep us independent from foreign influences and strengthen West Virginia and the United States.

That policy, as it stands today, must include natural gas. It must include increased domestic oil drilling. And it must include coal.

And it must include the funding and programs to develop clean energy alternatives.

It isn’t us vs. them in terms of pro gas and anti-gas people. At least it shouldn’t be.

It’s about the realization of what is viable now, and how we reach a greener future.

Here and now, the answer is clear.

Read more at The State Journal.


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