April 1, 2014: Lax regulations; Future Fund
We don’t need any more lax rules
The national spotlight is on West Virginia again, because of the chemical spill on the Elk River. This spill happened because of either non-existing regulations or lax regulations that were impossible to enforce. These lax regulations exist in most of our West Virginia industries: chemical, coal, oil and gas, and even in the timber industry to a certain extent.
The lax regulations are the result of lobbyists who pay out money and favors to our state and national representatives in Charleston and Washington.
Some of these so-called representatives have investments in the above named industries.
If all the many disasters that have happened in West Virginia would have happened in one of our bordering states, the news media would cover it until something concrete was settled; it likely wouldn’t happen again without a serious penalty. Think about instances in West Virginia like Buffalo Creek, Silver Bridge, Willow Island and Montcoal. The Elk River spill isn’t of the magnitude of the ones mentioned above, but health problems could appear a few years down the road.
We need to replace any representative that is part of a watered-down regulation. We can only convince them at the polls!
Robert L. Berry
75 percent should go into Future Fund
Recently, my genealogy hunt took me to Cameron and Moundsville in Marshall County, the district that Senate President Jeff Kessler represents. It seemed like there was an oil well on every mountaintop and many Pennsylvania license plates on those winding roads.
Because of the drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale, Sen. Kessler wants to create a Future Fund from the oil/gas severance taxes. As I understand it, he wants to give big government 75 percent of those taxes and put the remaining 25 percent into this Future Fund. The fund will be used for future public works projects, economic development and educational enhancement to begin a century from now.
What? Now, let’s just suppose this Future Fund will be run similar to the Coal Severance Fund or Lottery Fund. You can be assured of a discriminatory distribution policy like that of the Coal Severance Tax, and the gaming industry lobbyist will want a place at the trough for subsidies like they have with the Lottery Fund. If we go behind the cart and lead the horse to the front of it, I believe we could start those projects within 10 years if our legislator would put 75 percent of those taxes into the Future Fund and give the General Fund 25 percent. This fund is a wonderful idea. But, unless the Legislature puts a “no early withdraw” and “maturity clause” in the fund legislation, those intended fund projects will turn into pet projects for political gain.
Candidate for House of Delegates, 36th District