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Accountability must come from water crisis

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    Tuesday, September 16 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-09-16 04:00:32 GMT
    Monday marked the new beginning for the West Virginia University Children's Hospital. The hospital is expanding its walls to meet the growing needs of the community.
    Monday marked the new beginning for the West Virginia University Children's Hospital. The hospital is expanding its walls to meet the growing needs of the community.
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    Marion County residents were able to meet the candidates Monday night and get to hear from Fairmont City Council.
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    Monday, September 15 2014 11:40 PM EDT2014-09-16 03:40:26 GMT
    The militant group ISIS has beheaded four Western hostages, two from the United States and two from Britain. Monday night, WVU's Muslim Association held a vigil for one of the murdered American journalist.
    The militant group ISIS has beheaded four Western hostages, two from the United States and two from Britain. Monday night, WVU's Muslim Association held a vigil for one of the murdered American journalist.
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    Friday, September 12 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-09-12 12:00:30 GMT
    West Virginia is the most obese state in the world's most obese nation, according to an annual report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health.
    West Virginia is the most obese state in the world's most obese nation, according to an annual report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health.
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    Friday, September 5 2014 9:50 AM EDT2014-09-05 13:50:45 GMT
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    Our state's natural gas industry is growing in amazing ways. Just this week, it was announced that Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas Co. and AGL Resources are proposing a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with natural gas supplies from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
  • Business community must raise a voice against status quo

    Business community must raise a voice against status quo

    Friday, August 29 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-08-29 13:00:23 GMT
    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.
    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.

The chemical spill and resulting water crises that impacted, and continues to impact, the areas around Charleston serve as a reminder of the ease with which we access clean drinking water. Something profoundly terrifying occurs when you are told that what comes out of your tap could be poison. 

As is often the case with something so basic, we only realize how vital it is once we no longer have it. 

The response to the spill — from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on down — has been laudable. Unfortunately, this state has experienced far too many situations like this in the last few years, and it appears we have learned from those incidents. Chaos could easily have taken hold, but, thankfully, professionalism, rational thinking, determination and engagement won the day. Those in charge should be commended for their leadership. 

We also heard hundreds of stories about neighbors helping neighbors and countless local businesses opening their doors to offer meals or showers. A crisis often seems to bring out the best in West Virginians. 

How do we move forward? As hard as this may be to believe right now, in just a few weeks, this is likely to all be a bad memory. Showers will be hot, food will be cooked and hands will be washed. That sickeningly sweet smell hovering over the Elk River will have dissipated and the word "flushing" will morph into a joke. 

West Virginia is a resilient state with resilient people. Hardships, no matter how debilitating, are overcome. That's a testament to our perseverance, but we must not let our unyielding nature keep us from taking action. 

Those who caused this spill must be held accountable. We need a thorough and complete investigation. If the facts show negligence or failure to do the right thing, then those responsible must be held accountable. And if it is not perfectly clear who has oversight, it must be clarified so everyone knows where the accountability for the safety of our water supply lies.
We also must do all we can to ensure that this never happens again. Our water supply is too precious and the chance for catastrophe is too great to do anything less. Knee-jerk, reactionary politics will not help. We need thoughtful, common-sense legislation that comprehensively addresses the issue. Elected leaders, regulatory agencies, community members and industry need to have a voice in this process, but public safety must be the goal everyone is working toward.

Tomblin said this week that "we need to do what we can to see that this kind of incident never happens again. There's no excuse for it." We couldn't agree more.