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 By Steven Allen Adams

For The Journal

Martinsburg

Under intense pressure from progressive Democrats and Republican lawmakers, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin released his permitting reform language late Wednesday that will be part of a continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded past September.

Manchin, D-W.Va., released the permitting reform package Wednesday evening, with staff giving reporters a sneak peek and briefing late Wednesday afternoon.

Calling it the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, the package would streamline the process for federal authorizations of energy and natural resources projects, such as oil and natural gas drilling and pipeline projects.

“No matter what you want to build, whether it’s transmission pipelines or hydropower dams, more often than not, it takes too long and drives up costs,” Manchin said in a statement released Wednesday evening. “I can assure you, the longer the time goes on, the more the price goes up. That’s what we’re facing in America today with energy.”

The package sets a twoyear deadline for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews of proposed projects that require full environmental impact statements from more than one federal agency. The target date drops to one year for projections requiring one environmental assessment. It also requires approval of remaining permits within 180 days once the NEPA process has concluded.

Manchin’s bill language requires one agency to take the lead on coordinating project reviews and requires sharing of information between agencies to expedite the permitting process.

Any court cases to block projects would need to be filed within 150 days, and it sets a deadline for courts of no more than 180 days for agencies to act on remanded or vacated permits. It also creates dispute resolution procedures to keep projects from bogging down.

The act requires the president to designate certain projects of national importance, which would flag those projects for expedited review.

It gives the federal government greater authority to expedite permits for new electrical transmission lines, and it requires all federal agencies to approve all remaining permits for the long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline that would transport natural gas from West Virginia to the Virginia coast.

Now that summer’s officially over and public attention is turning to the mid-term elections, we know what the parties want us to concentrate on.

Democrats are running on abortion access, threats to democracy, their big climate package, and a record of accomplishment on Capitol Hill. Republicans are running on crime, border security, infl ation, and the economy in general.

But there’s another issue neither side is talking much about that deserves your attention this year. I’m talking about political skill. Not the kind that gets people elected, but the kind that helps them be effective once in office. Because right now, our democracy needs office-holders who’ve got it, in both parties.

In order to work well—to ensure that all the many voices of this remarkably diverse country are heard and reflected in the halls of power, and to make progress on resolving the challenges that face us—our democracy requires politicians who are adept at the basics.

Politicians may not always be popular, but their ability to listen carefully to many sides of an issue, to find areas of common interest among them, to negotiate with their colleagues, and to hammer out compromises that move the ball forward are what make government work. Plain and simple.

One big reason a lot of people believe government isn’t working well is that politicians’ ability to explore common ground has gotten much scarcer than it once was. Partly, this is because there are many more interest groups out there.

When I first arrived in Congress, representing a rural district, there were several groups interested in agriculture. Now, it’s scores—if not more. They’ve all got their points of view, and understanding their needs and forging common ground among them is complex and time-consuming.

By Al Cross

I love social media.

They keep me in touch with dozens of friends, whom I might otherwise have contact with just every few years, or every few decades.

They let me share articles that I think bring greater understanding of a subject, usually with a comment of my own, and enjoy similar sharing by others.

They let me share my own writing, reaching a wider audience than I did when I worked for newspapers, and be part of national, even international, conversations.

I hate social media.

They have become the default sources of information for most Americans, and major sources of misinformation – even disinformation – that polarizes the country and drives us into media echo chambers.

They have added to the confusion between fact and opinion, and to our natural desire for information that confirms what we believe, rather than information that may challenge those beliefs.

They have led Americans to spend more time online in virtual communities instead of the geographic communities where we live, pay taxes and elect local leaders.

By Mike Tony HD Media

The West Virginia Legislature has taken steps in recent sessions to expand off-road vehicle use and amenities across the state’s park system. But lawmakers didn’t embrace combining those two concepts during an interim legislative session committee meeting this week.

Democratic and Republican members of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Subcommittee pushed back against allowing off-road vehicles in state parks during a meeting on the subject Sunday.

“To go in and tear our parks up, I can’t support it,” Sen. Rupie Phillips, R-Logan, said.

“It scars our parks, and it’s not an activity I would like to come across,” said Sen. Robert Beach, DMonongalia.

The legislators made their remarks after hearing presentations from two retired state park system leaders against approving off-road vehicle use in state parks and representatives of two groups that support motorized recreation.

House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, asked subcommittee co-chairman Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, whether he aimed for the meeting to yield a recommendation regarding offroad vehicles in state parks or just wanted to educate members on the topic.

Hamilton replied that the purpose of the meeting was to get input from supporters and opponents of offroad vehicle use in state parks in anticipation of legislation to legalize it.

“Hopefully not coming from the parks and recreation committee,” Hamilton added of such legislation.

Committee members addressed all their questions during the nearly 90-minute meeting to the former state park system leaders — retired West Virginia State Parks Chief Sam England and retired West Virginia State Parks Superintendent Scott Durham.

“My use of public lands can’t and shouldn’t interfere with your use of public lands,” England said.

West Virginia’s poultry industry is on the verge of a drastic shift. Nearly half of the state’s poultry growers are at retirement age and more than one third of those growers are planning to retire within the next five years.

The numbers are even higher in Hardy County, the poultry capital of the state, where 59% percent of growers are 60 years of age or older and 65% of the growers who have plans to retire intend to do so within the next five years.

According to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Hardy County produces 43% of the state’s poultry, meaning these findings point to significant industry changes on the horizon.

Impending retirements were among several findings about West Virginia’s poultry industry revealed by a statewide census of growers executed by Orion Strategies. The census was the first of its kind in the state and was conducted in consultation with the West Virginia University Extension Service, the West Virginia Farm Bureau, and the West Virginia Poultry Association.

“The West Virginia poultry industry is a vital resource to West Virginia’s economy. It contributes over $100 million to the state in annual payroll and support to local economies,” said Daryl See, immediate past president of the West Virginia Poultry Association.

The data indicates a large portion of poultry growers are quickly approaching retirement with a lack of succession planning in place. The loss of these growers without identified replacements may threaten the stability of West Virginia’s poultry industry.

“Poultry is the number one protein consumed in the U.S. and around the world. Our West Virginia growers are needed to meet growing demand. We are usually ranked among the top 20 producers with 2.2 million birds coming out of Moorefield each week,” said Dr. Joe Moritz, WVU Extension specialist and professor of poultry science.

Will you own an electric car? If you live long enough and that’s all that is being made, you probably will. Many of us we’ll hold out for as long as possible.

I’m all for electric cars especially if someone else is buying them. If 20% of America’s driving population goes to the electric vehicle, EV, then surely gasoline will become cheaper. Less people buying gasoline will reduce the demand and it should reduce the price. We hope.

California will not allow the sale of gasoline cars by 2035.

This same state told EV drivers not to charge their electric cars during the past Labor Day weekend when the temperatures were expected to hit triple digits for millions of residents putting a drain on the power grid.

This brings us to the same crisis every community will face. America’s power grids aren’t ready to accommodate millions of EVs plugging in for a recharge. The prospects of city and regional blackouts are alarming. You can forget charging your car. You won’t be able to charge your cell phone or have air conditioning or heat during a blackout.

I’m not opposed to electric cars. I am opposed to them being crammed down our throats. The manufacturers are being pushed to eventually eliminate all gasoline vehicles. We will see how this goes over the next 10 years.

Plan to spend some money. A local salesman talked to me about an electric Mustang. Stickered at $48,000 but they were asking $58,000 because as he said, “We can get it.” I didn’t want the car to begin with but was curious about the car.

It sounds time consuming to recharge an EV, although some EVs are promising up to 150-mile charge in a short amount of time.

EVs could mean fewer people on America’s interstates. Currently in most American communities, it’s much easier to go home to recharge at your own power station.

By Charles Young WV News

The West Virginia Senate passed a bill last Tuesday that effectively bans abortion procedures in the state.

House Bill 302 passed by a vote of 22-7, with five members absent.

The bill would ban abortions from being performed or induced unless they are recommended by the “reasonable judgement of a licensed medical professional” for reasons such as non-medically viable fetus, ectopic pregnancy or medical emergencies.

The bill contains exceptions for victims of incest and sexual assault, with several stipulations, according to Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha.

Adults who are victims of incest and sexual assault will be able to seek an exemption to the law for up to eight weeks.

Adult victims must report the crime to law enforcement, and law enforcement must provide the report to the medical professional performing the procedure, Takubo said.

Minors may seek an exemption for up to 14 weeks, Takubo said.

“For this exception, at least one of the following must occur: either 1) a report of sexual assault or incest must be made to law enforcement or 2) the patient must obtain medical treatment for the sexual assault or incest by a licensed medial professional...” he said.

Licensed medical professionals who perform abortion procedures in violation of the law can be subject to “disciplinary action,” Takubo said.

“If the licensing board fi nds that the medial professional unlawfully preforms or induces an abortion, or attempted to do so, the board shall

The Parkersburg News & Sentinel

Those responsible for the start of the substance abuse epidemic that still plagues West Virginia continue to come to justice.

Five doctors violated their oath to do no harm and have pleaded guilty to various charges relating to their time at the Hope Clinic, which had offi ces in Beckley, Beaver, and Charleston, W.Va., and in Wytheville, Va.

William Earley, 66, of North Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Brian Gullett, 45, of Clarksville, Pa.; Roswell Tempest Lowry, 88, of Efl and, N.C.; and Vernon Stanley, 79, of Fayetteville, W.Va. pleaded guilty in federal court to felony counts of aiding and abetting obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Mark Clarkson, 64, of Princeton, W.Va., pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of aiding and abetting the misbranding of a drug involved in interstate commerce.

We all know how they got the job done, by now. These folks wrote prescriptions - some providing up to seven pills per day - to as many as 65 customers (federal prosecutors do not refer to them as “patients’’) per day. Oxycodone and other controlled substances were churned out with no legitimate medical purpose from 2010 to 2015.

It is good to know they now await their punishment.

But as the wheels of justice slowly turn, in the form of lawsuits and criminal convictions, what are we as a state doing to address the underlying causes of the continued substance abuse epidemic? Law enforcement and prosecutors are doing their work. What are policy makers and politicians doing?

The Intelligencer, Wheeling

Remember when West Virginia’s lawmakers promised to “right-size’’ government? They’ve not made nearly as much headway as many had hoped.

But perhaps part of the reason for that is the enormity of the problem. It’s not easy to discover all the ways in which taxpayer money is being thrown away when it is part of the very fabric of state government in West Virginia.

Over the weekend, lawmakers heard an enlightening report from the Legislature’s Performance Evaluation and Research Division, which details an audit that showed more than $226 million was appropriated in the fiscal year 2022 executive budget in salaries and benefits for 4,857 vacant positions.

“Each year, several millions of dollars are appropriated for budgeted vacant positions, many of which have been vacant for several years with no evidence that agencies are trying to fill them,’’ said Lukas Griffith, senior analyst for PERD.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, voiced what many of us must have thought when he said simply “Wow.’’ Now it’s up to lawmakers to do something about it.

In private business, if a position has been vacant for years, with little to no effect on the operation, that position goes away.

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