- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

Oct. 12

Bluefield (West Virginia) Daily Telegraph on EPA rules:

A recent report from the 60 Plus Association is more reason for concern when it comes to crippling new federal regulations and higher electric bills.

The report, which was unveiled last week by U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and 60 Plus Association founder and chairman Jim Martin, concludes that the new EPA rules targeting coal-fired power plants will increase electric prices at rates above the general rate of inflation while also leading to higher utility prices of America’s elderly population that exceed the modest cost of living (COLA) adjustments that many who are 65 years of age or older depend upon.

The report also found that energy costs are adversely impacting lower-income seniors afflicted by health conditions, leading them to forego food for a day, reduce medical or dental care, and fail to pay utility bills, according to Griffith.

We aren’t surprised by the findings of this particular study, as we have been warned for several months now that the new EPA rules targeting coal-fired power plants will lead to higher electric bills for most Americans, including senior citizens and those low-income families living right here in the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. And Griffith correctly points to a comment made by then presidential candidate Barack Obama back in 2008 as evidence of this unfair burden that is being placed on senior citizens.

Griffith says when President Barack Obama was a candidate back in 2008 he told a newspaper editorial board with the San Francisco Chronicle that his plan for a cap and trade system would cause electricity rates to necessarily skyrocket.

“This comment has always troubled me,” Griffith said. “When Obama said - consumers, he included you and me. He included the senior citizens worried sick about how they’re going to cover the cost of food, medical bills, and yes, the light and heat bill each month. He included the single moms trying to hold down a job, raise children and pay their bills such as the bill to keep the lights and heat on.”

Griffith says he has and continues to seek answers from EPA officials in terms of the impact that these burdensome regulations will have not only on jobs and the economy, as well as the poor and elderly through increased heating and cooling prices. He argues that the agency is showing a “callous disregard” for seniors and others.

We too are concerned. Not only about the impact of these new rules on the coal mining industry, but also the impact of higher electric bills on senior citizens and low-income families across our region.




Oct. 10

Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on oil-train safety:

Hydraulic fracturing has made practical the recovery of crude oil in the Bakken formation below Montana and North Dakota. Production topped 1 million barrels per day in April and continues to climb.

Derailments of trains carrying Bakken oil from the fields has many people worried about safety.

There is a way to render concerns about oil shipments by rail moot by shipping the Bakken oil the normal way - by pipeline.

Pipelines deliver 70 percent of the crude oil and petroleum products in the United States, the Manhattan Institute reported. Only 3 percent is carried by rail, with 23 percent traveling by barge and 4 percent by motor carrier.

“Road had the highest rate of incidents, with 19.95 per billion ton miles per year,” the institute reported.

“This was followed by rail, with 2.08 per billion ton miles per year. Natural gas transmission came next, with 0.89 per billion ton miles. Hazardous liquid pipelines were the safest, with 0.58 serious incidents per billion ton miles.”

Building the Keystone XL from Hardisty, Alberta, in Canada to Steel City, Nebraska, would eliminate most rail transport of this crude oil.

For nearly six years, the administration of President Obama has blocked the Keystone project, which would also carry oil from Canada’s oil sands.

Canadians are tired of the political games Obama is playing, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday. A Canadian company - East Energy - announced it will spend $10.7 billion building its own pipeline to its oil.

“Its 2,858-mile path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude,” Bloomberg reported.

That makes Canada safer.

Now to build the pipeline to the Bakken fields and make the United States safer.




Oct. 14

Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, on student discipline:

A chief finding in a report issued last week by the West Virginia Department of Education may not come as a surprise, but it should give Mountain State educators plenty of fodder to think about when it comes to disciplining students.

A study by the department’s Office of Research concluded that an increase in discipline referrals raises the likelihood that students will do poorly on standardized tests, particularly those students who are given forms of punishment that take them out of the classroom, according to a report in The Charleston Gazette.

The findings also suggest that out-of-classroom punishments also may be unnecessary in many cases. The research showed that more than three-fifths of documented school disciplinary action in West Virginia takes students out of the classroom for some period of time, although the majority of disciplinary cases are categorized “minimally disruptive behavior.” That classification means that students did not pose a danger to themselves or others. In some cases citing minimally disruptive behavior, students were expelled, the researchers found.

The issue raises a type of “chicken-and-egg” question. Do disruptive students have poor achievement because they don’t behave? Or does taking them out of the classroom contribute to their poor showings on tests?

There’s no clear answer to that, but simple logic would suggest that a student who loses class time also will lose instructional time and therefore have more gaps in learning. Educators stress consistently that being absent from school hurts students’ ability to succeed.

That’s why it seems to make more sense for the state’s school systems to look for alternative disciplinary strategies, particularly if the student does not pose a threat to other students.

The chief take-aways appear to be that schools should emphasize these priorities: avoid kicking students out of school as much as possible so their learning opportunities aren’t interrupted, and discipline should be applied impartially.



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