The Times West Virginian


March 6, 2013

President’s pick to lead EPA is not a friend of coal

Let’s just say if we’re picking out friends of coal, Gina McCarthy probably wouldn’t be included among the ranks.

But that’s who President Barack Obama has slated to replace Lisa Jackson as Environmental Protection Agency administrator. And if the Senate confirms the appointment, we imagine that McCarthy will pick right up where her former boss left off — painfully regulating coal, coal-fired plants and emissions because Congress has failed to agree on a national energy plan.

McCarthy, currently the EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, might mean a harsh environment for coal-fired electricity generation, which powers nearly half the country. That translates to a tough climate for coal. She has already been the champion of regulations that limit carbon emissions for new power plants, and regulations that have affected current plants in operation.

Just ask the residents of Rivesville, where a Mon Power plant was shuttered.

Obama has said he wants to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide, through legislation. But the chances of that seem pretty slim considering that in 2010, even with a Democrat-led Senate and House, a comprehensive climate bill failed to pass. Without congressional support for another attempt at a climate bill, the EPA will just have to go back to what it’s been doing for the past four years.

More emissions regulations. More mining permits being stuck in limbo. More of coal being left out in the cold.

This nation needs a clear and concise energy plan, one that includes all elements. If we take advantage of all our energy resources — from coal and natural gas to wind and solar — the entire nation benefits in the end. But if one administration regulates a few of the resources to the point where it’s no longer economically feasible for use, you’re hampering industry. And industry will feel the effects much longer than the duration of the administration.

Will we get a clear picture of energy from a second cabinet-level appointment in MIT professor Ernest Moniz as energy secretary? Outgoing Secretary of Energy Steven Chu referred to coal as his “worst nightmare.” The White House says Moniz’s appointment is evidence of the administration’s commitment to an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

All of the above — except coal, that is.

The only positive is that Moniz has been a champion of natural gas and much of his research at MIT has looked into natural gas as “a bridge fuel” because it burns with less carbon emissions than, well, coal.

Our only consolation is that since the EPA has declared the United States the “no smoking” section of Earth, we’ll continue to mine our coal and send it off to India and China to burn it. We just don’t see McCarthy and Moniz as anything different from Jackson and Chu.

And since Congress can’t even agree to avoid catastrophic budget cuts, we think we’ll be living with more of the same from the EPA for at least the next four years.

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  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

    Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
    That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

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