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EPA announcement should have been anticipated

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  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Political bickering overshadows need for change

    Political bickering overshadows need for change

    Friday, August 15 2014 11:39 AM EDT2014-08-15 15:39:41 GMT
    New ideas and ways to move our state and nation forward are in short supply during this election season.
    New ideas and ways to move our state and nation forward are in short supply during this election season.
  • Diversifying our economy will make it more resilient

    Diversifying our economy will make it more resilient

    Friday, August 8 2014 6:00 AM EDT2014-08-08 10:00:18 GMT
    We have been hit hard with some tough economic news in recent days about our state’s most recognized industry. We learned that Alpha Natural Resources could lay off more than 1,000 workers later this year. Another report showed that it is becoming cheaper for domestic energy producers to import coal from other countries than to use what is mined in the U.S.
    We have been hit hard with some tough economic news in recent days about our state’s most recognized industry. We learned that Alpha Natural Resources could lay off more than 1,000 workers later this year. Another report showed that it is becoming cheaper for domestic energy producers to import coal from other countries than to use what is mined in the U.S.
  • Successful privatization should inspire more reform

    Successful privatization should inspire more reform

    Friday, August 1 2014 1:48 PM EDT2014-08-01 17:48:52 GMT
    It’s not a stretch to say West Virginia once had the dubious distinction of having the worst workers’ compensation system in the nation.
    It’s not a stretch to say West Virginia once had the dubious distinction of having the worst workers’ compensation system in the nation.

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.