This is a controversial issue in West Virginia's future. The metropolitan areas around Washington, D.C., rely upon water supplies originating in Pocahontas County. The abundant water supply of the Monongahela, Kanawha and Ohio Rivers help fulfill the downstream water needs of the Mississippi Valley. Both are examples of conflict waiting to happen. As pointed out in Nature's Fortune, "By making the connection between nature and basic human and business needs, conservation becomes more meaningful to millions of people around the globe."
Water is an important natural resource in West Virginia and it will be a significant part of West Virginia's future. By being proactive in protecting this asset, we can define our future. Otherwise, we risk being overpowered by the size and strength of the metropolitan areas downstream.
Energy independence is not just about relying on coal until we position natural gas and renewable energy to fill the gap. It is ultimately about recognizing the price of our carbon footprint and being at the table to negotiate global solutions.
Tercek is bold to say, "Chief among the components of nature that currently have no price (in most parts of the world) is carbon ... Putting a price on that carbon is the single most important thing to do regarding climate change."
How we might do this is clearly a subject of debate in West Virginia. But to be a leader in the global discussion on energy and the environment, we must be at the table offering creative and sustainable solutions. The state's success at dealing with this issue will affect the State's future in a dramatic way.
Nature's fortune is ever-present in West Virginia. Properly understood and appreciated, our state can harness our abundant natural assets to encourage economic prosperity while maintaining our cultural heritage and independence. We need to work in concert with our natural resources with one eye trained on the future. Mark Tercek's Nature's Fortune is a book worth reading. It has a message worth embracing. It is a call for cooperative action by business, government, communities and environmentalists. It is really about our future. It is about working together. It is about preserving our children's livelihoods. Let's show our neighbors that we are ready to lead West Virginia into the 21st century based on the solid foundation of our natural resources. As a start, please read Mark Tercek's Nature's Fortune.
McCabe, a Charleston real estate developer, is a member of the West Virginia Senate and a board member of The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia.