OPINION ~ West Virginia Needs Rational Leaders Not Naysayers

by Duane Nichols on July 6, 2023

Methane & Carbon Dioxide continue to increase in the Atmosphere but our Congress ignores this!

Congressional Representatives put industry profits above constituents

By Wes Holden, Letter to Editor, Charleston Gazette, July 6, 2023

Carol Miller’s record is clearly not aligned with the best interests of West Virginians.
Let’s consider the forum Rep. Miller, R-W.Va., participated in last month in Huntington, where she promoted House Resolution 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

If HR 1 was passed into law, it would increase oil and gas company profits (already at record levels) and harm our environment, as well as public health. HR 1 would allow companies to skirt the Clean Air Act by lifting pollution control requirements and weakening emission requirements and worker protection for refineries using toxic chemicals.

“We should be empowering American energy production, instead of buying oil and gas from our adversaries. When we increase domestic energy production, costs for Americans go down,” Miller said. “When you overly restrict people who are producing, it hurts Americans by driving up energy costs.”

Miller’s statement is full of fallacies. West Virginia is awash in natural gas production. In fact, if West Virginia, parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania were a country of its own, it would be the third-largest natural gas supplier to the world. Currently, our country is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world, and we are a net exporter of energy.

The Energy Information Administration tracks how much refiners pay for domestic and imported oil. In the past 10 years, domestic oil has cost more. You have to go back to November 2012 to find a month when the cost of a barrel of domestic oil was less than a barrel of imported oil. Since February 2021 (the month when the price returned to its prepandemic level), domestic oil has cost an average of $4.06 more per barrel than imported oil.

Domestically produced oil and gasoline is not more affordable. Whether looking at the price paid by refineries, or the simple cost of production, domestic oil actually costs more than imported oil.

If Miller truly cares about the constituents she is supposed to represent, she would call out the natural gas industry for how it is treating its customers. She should require it to repair miles of leaking pipelines and cap abandoned gas wells, as well as work to improve West Virginia’s weakest link, which is our natural gas distribution, especially to sites where new major corporations could set up facilities.

I’m sure she will not ask any regulating authority to review the major players in the conventional and unconventional gas production industry who have divested their deteriorating assets downstream to the intrastate natural gas gathering and distribution industry (to the point where more middlemen entered the natural gas supply chain with their entities that have done nothing but increase the costs to the West Virginia natural gas consumer).

Last month, Miller introduced a House companion bill with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing its recently announced proposal that would force the closure of coal- and gas-fired power plants.

Ever since the inception of the EPA in 1970, Republicans have sought to limit the agency’s power by restricting its funding, because environmental laws threaten to reduce the profits of polluting industries.

According to the EPA, proposed new carbon standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants would help tackle the climate crisis and protect public health, reduce harmful pollutants and deliver up to $85 billion in climate and public health benefits over the next two decades.

Last week, because of the smoke from the Canadian wildfires, I could hardly see the West Virginia state Capitol as I drove by on the interstate. The dim view of the Capitol building made me think about Miller’s efforts to satisfy the fossil fuel industry by diminishing our clean air standards.

One of the most beneficial pieces of legislation to be enacted in our country since President Roosevelt’s New Deal was the passage of the Infrastructure and Jobs Act of 2021. West Virginia is due to receive $6 billion for roads, bridges, water and sewer facilities, broadband development and other infrastructure. Thousands of well-paid jobs will be created. However, Miller voted against it, considering it “socialism.”

She and Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., were the only congressional representatives in West Virginia to vote against the recently announced $1.2 billion that West Virginia is due to receive for broadband funding aimed at unserved and underserved areas.
Miller is not offering any sound solutions to the problems that West Virginia is facing, and she continues to vote against beneficial legislation and in support of bills which are harmful to our quality of life. We West Virginians deserve better representation.

>>> Wes Holden is a retired federal employee who lives in Sissonville.

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