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West Virginia editorial roundup

October 8, 2013
Associated Press

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

Oct. 7

News and Sentinel, Parkersburg, W. Va., on blocking anti-coal FERC nominees:

Politics may be the art of compromise, but there has been precious little of it from President Barack Obama. That is why West Virginians, Ohioans and others who understand the importance of coal-fired power plants should temper any celebrations of a political defeat the president suffered this week.

Obama had nominated Ron Binz, a Coloradan with a strong anti-coal record, to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Binz withdrew his name from consideration last week, after it became clear the Senate would not confirm him.

That small victory was due largely to a decision by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to oppose Binz.

Manchin is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; his vote, along with those of Republicans on the panel, would have kept Binz's nomination from reaching the full Senate.

Good for Manchin, then, but maybe not so good for Americans in the long run.

Obama's no-compromise record in his war on coal means he probably will follow up with an equally objectionable FERC nominee.

If he chooses to do that, Manchin and Republican senators should block that person, too.

Refusing to compromise is a game two can play. Opponents of Obama's attempt to shut down coal-fired power plants score few victories.

This ought to be a continuing one.



Oct. 7

The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W. Va., on pedestrian safety a must for planning road project:

The recent deaths of three pedestrians in two separate accidents in the Huntington area have put a focus on pedestrian safety.

In one case, questions have been raised about whether street lighting was sufficient. In both accidents, people are wondering whether creating more and better crosswalks could have made a difference. Those are both pertinent issues that officials should examine closely. Beyond that, though, the fatalities underscore the importance of adequately accounting for pedestrian safety when roads are designed.

One accident occurred the night of Sept. 26 when a 60-year-old Chesapeake, Ohio, woman was struck by a vehicle while crossing Hal Greer Boulevard to return to Cabell Huntington Hospital, where her husband was a patient. Officials have pointed to some burned-out streetlights in the vicinity as a possible contributing factor, and have noted that the state-maintained road is due for a street-lighting upgrade.

In the other accident, which occurred Oct. 1, a retired couple from England staying at a motel in the Huntington Mall area was killed while crossing U.S. 60. ...

In April, the West Virginia Legislature approved "complete streets" legislation that encourages the Division of Highways to adopt policies that accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation during the planning, design and construction of all state roadways. Backers of the bill wanted the legislation to require such "complete streets" planning, but that provision was removed before passage.

Kentucky transportation officials also are encouraged to consider pedestrian safety needs when planning projects.

We encourage state planners — as well as local government agencies — to give pedestrian safety due consideration as they develop road improvement projects. Adhering to that philosophy won't eliminate all pedestrian accidents, but it could reduce the number of those fatalities.



Oct. 7

Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette on energy:

Although West Virginia politicians endlessly laud the coal industry, most reports say coal is sinking relentlessly while other types of energy soar. Sadly, this trend may bring suffering to the Mountain State's mining communities.

In a major report titled "Power Surge," the Oct. 7 Time says "the United States is undergoing an energy revolution in gas, oil, wind, solar and efficiency" -- but coal is absent from the happy news.

The magazine says horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing unleashed a colossal upsurge in natural gas that may finally free America from foreign oil imports. ...

The report says climbing U.S. oil production, plus rapid growth of wind and solar power output -- plus dramatic improvement in vehicle gas mileage and curtailment of energy waste -- could erase America's dependence on foreign oil "within a decade."

Time says human ingenuity enabled drillers to produce a bonanza of fuels. But it warns that abundance of low-cost U.S. gas and oil may cause America to rely on these fossil substances and thus continue to vent heat-trapping carbon emissions into the sky. ...

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett recently predicted that coal will retreat gradually in America's economy. The retreat is worst in the Central Appalachian field -- Southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky -- where rich seams are almost gone and only expensive, hard-to-reach coal remains.

A May report by Downstream Strategies of Morgantown confirmed that Southern West Virginia coal output fell 37 percent since 1997, and it forecast even-worse decline in the coming decade.

As we've said before, it's time for West Virginia leaders to stop trying to blame the retreat of coal on federal pollution controls. Instead, they should launch intelligent planning for the altered economy that is taking shape before everyone's eyes.




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