- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

Sept. 24

Bluefield (W.Va.) Daily Telegraph on EPA rules:

We can complain all day about the controversial new carbon emission rules targeting coal-fired power plants, but if area residents and business leaders don’t officially object to the new EPA rules, our voices will ultimately go unheard. That’s why it is important for concerned citizens across the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia to take advantage of the 45-day comment period extension.

The EPA has moved its deadline for public comment on the Clean Power Plant Proposed Rule from Oct. 16 to Dec. 1, giving citizens an additional 45 days to weigh in. Those who have not yet made an official comment on the record should take advantage of this extension.

The EPA proposed the new rules for existing power plants on June 2, announcing a 120-day public comment period and four public hearings in Denver, Atlanta, Washington and Pittsburgh. However, no hearings have been held to date in West Virginia.

The 45-day extension period was announced last week by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who urged area residents to speak out.

“I have pressed the EPA to keep its comment period open and to listen to the effects its rules will have on real people, on West Virginia’s families, our jobs, our communities, and on the reliability of the electric grid,” Rahall said. “Now is the time for West Virginians to make their voices heard and help me push back against the short-sightedness of the EPA.”

Online:

http://www.bdtonline.com

___

Sept. 24

Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on West Virginia tourism:

In January of 1974, a band of young musicians gathered in Studio One in Doraville, Ga. to record a song for their second album.

Guitarist Ed King started the recording with a few licks that had come to him the night before. Singer Ronnie Van Zant spoke into the microphone to tell the recording engineer to “turn it up” because the volume on his headphones was set too low.

Chances are, none of the young members of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based band Lynyrd Skynyrd had ever been to West Virginia by that time. And surely, none of them envisioned that some 40 years later, state officials 489 miles to the north would adopt that now famous signature line as the theme for a tourism conference.

Yet, Turn it Up seems as good a theme as there could be for West Virginia tourism. And it’s not just a good mantra for state tourism officials, but for West Virginians everywhere who want to better their state.

“We do have so much to offer especially in the outdoors with skiing, whitewater rafting, ATV trails — you name it, we’ve got it here in West Virginia,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told the conference attendees.

“Tourism is a huge industry. It is over a $5 billion industry to West Virginia and employs 46,000 people in the state, so it’s very big for our economy.”

All state residents can get into the act of promoting state tourism.

Start at the website at www.wvtourism.com.

Turn it up. Tell your friends, your co-workers, everyone you know about the wonderful opportunities to visit in the Mountain State. And turn it up, and tell ‘em again.

Online:

http://www.charlestondailymail.com

___

Sept. 22

Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, on fighting poverty:

Even when we are doing better, we are doing worse.

West Virginia’s median household income is up a little, but so is the percentage of people living in poverty.

That certainly seems counterintuitive, but those statistics provide an important reminder that reducing the persistent poverty in our region is a difficult and very complex problem.

The median income in West Virginia went from $40,555 in 2012 to $41,253 in 2013, an increase of 1.7 percent, according to new results from the American Community Survey. That is still significantly below the national median of $52,250, but the Mountain State increase was higher than the national average of 0.6 percent.

But at the same time, the number of West Virginians living in poverty rose from 320,055 in 2012 to 332,347 in 2013. The percentage was up, too, from 17.8 percent in 2012 to 18.5 percent in 2013. Nationally, the poverty rate dropped slightly from 15 percent to 14.5 percent, the first decline since 2006 and the recession years that followed.

“These poverty numbers are showing that this growth isn’t lifting all of us, that the people at the bottom are being left behind,” Sean O’Leary, an economic analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy think tank, told the Charleston Gazette last week. “It’s a wakeup call that we can’t just rely on general economic growth to address poverty.”

Perhaps even more troubling is that so much of the poverty involves young people and young families. Almost 30 percent of children in the state live below the poverty level, and the percentage for children under 5 is slightly higher. A significant share of those in poverty are younger adults, who are not working or working only part time. Meanwhile, the percentage of seniors in poverty is much lower, around 9 percent.

As the Roosevelt PBS specials airing this week show, efforts to lift West Virginians from poverty have been going on since the New Deal era, when experimental planned communities were built in Arthurdale in Preston County, Eleanor in Putnam County and Tygart Valley in Randolph County. Fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” targeted many communities in our region.

But today’s statistics show that not only is the problem still with us, but the cycle is continuing, and in some ways, picking up steam.

While state and federal leaders certainly must focus on raising the overall prosperity of the state, they cannot stop there. Reducing entrenched poverty will require additional strategies — from early childhood programs to drug treatment to adult job training — to replace hopelessness with skills and opportunity.

Online:

http://www.herald-dispatch.com

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