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EPA announcement should have been anticipated

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  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Can we be realistic on roads?

    Can we be realistic on roads?

    Friday, July 18 2014 7:00 AM EDT2014-07-18 11:00:54 GMT
    Building and maintaining roads should not be a political issue. In fact, it should be pretty straightforward. Potholes need filled, drainage ditches need cleaned, the highways need striped — while it might be painstaking and expensive, the overall concept is pretty simple.
    Building and maintaining roads should not be a political issue. In fact, it should be pretty straightforward. Potholes need filled, drainage ditches need cleaned, the highways need striped — while it might be painstaking and expensive, the overall concept is pretty simple.
  • Looking the other way perpetuates criminal politics

    Looking the other way perpetuates criminal politics

    Friday, July 11 2014 10:46 AM EDT2014-07-11 14:46:55 GMT
    Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in a political scheme that has dominated headlines for nearly a year and shined a bright light on one part of the state’s tangled web of public corruption.
    Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in a political scheme that has dominated headlines for nearly a year and shined a bright light on one part of the state’s tangled web of public corruption.
  • Energy generation economy will require evolution

    Energy generation economy will require evolution

    Friday, June 27 2014 9:38 AM EDT2014-06-27 13:38:18 GMT
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed down an interesting decision in terms of what the Environmental Protection Agency can and cannot do in terms of reducing emissions at power plants and factories.
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed down an interesting decision in terms of what the Environmental Protection Agency can and cannot do in terms of reducing emissions at power plants and factories.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced its new “Clean Power Plan” and many West Virginia politicians are stepping over themselves to denounce the agency and offer dire predictions about how this proposal will drag down our economy. Their fears are well-founded, but they cannot act as if they did not see this coming.

If only our elected leaders, so up in arms over the last few days, would devote a fraction of that passion to diversifying this state’s economic system and giving our people a lasting chance at prosperity. In a very real way, we can lay this problem at their feet. Decades of inaction and complete unwillingness to look past the extraction industries for job creation have put us all in this difficult position. Refusing to diversify has serious consequences.

Anyone with a modicum of foresight knew this was a real possibility. Before he was even elected, President Obama noted his distaste for coal and power generated from coal. How did we react? By doing next to nothing. Business got a modicum of tax relief, but we embraced very few ideas that would truly allow prosperity to flourish. We did little to modernize our tax code, our judicial system remains a place where politics trumps fairness and far too many of our students are not getting what they need to compete in the 21st century.

What happens now? Even if the EPA’s “reforms” are stalled or rolled back, it is unlikely Washington, D.C., becomes a place that embraces coal any time soon. It may be difficult to hear, but Appalachia is out of step with the rest of the nation in so many ways.

It’s difficult to defend others’ naive views about energy creation, but facing reality means dealing with the world as it is, not the way we would like to see it. It’s time for West Virginia to take charge of its own course. That happens when those in power realize our state’s potential and what our people can do. Businesses allowed to operate outside the system have success, but so many are subjected to job-killing measures. Not only that — we do little to welcome investment.

We have made strides. A once-broken workers’ compensation system is now a model for other states. We are paying down debt and dealing with post-employment benefits and unfunded liability issues that position us well for the future. All we truly need are leaders willing to give us a shot at a better West Virginia.