Dear Editor:

Wow!

Congratulations to Pocahontas County High School students for ranking sixth in the state in Common Core 2015/2016 math scores and to ninth graders in particular for ranking #1!

How fortunate the county is to have the skillful educational and leadership talents of Joanna Burt-Kinderman.

You all have proven that our investment as taxpayers in the Pocahontas County public education system works. May you have much continued success in your educational endeavors.

Nancy Kohlrieser
Snowshoe

Dear Editor:

On December 30 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released a 2,372-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Public comments are open until April 6, 2017.

According to Dominion Energy’s press release published by The Pocahontas Times (January 5), the DEIS “moves us one step closer to building a stronger economy and a cleaner environment for the future of our region.”

The term “our region” is not inclusive to Pocahontas County and indeed much of the 600 mile route. If built, our economy will be weaker; our environment degraded. We will receive zero natural gas and zero permanent locally-based jobs. Pipeline property taxes, of which less than 40 percent will actually go into our county budget, will likely be more than offset by depreciating property values and limit new development near the route. Construction such as welding, heavy equipment and excavation operation, and logging will be performed primarily by non-local workers, which will provide nothing but a brief economic blip. The Key-Log Economics study concludes that negative economic consequences will occur in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Dominion can make a case that eastern parts of Virginia and North Carolina will gain economically, and West Virginia policymakers can once again delude themselves that export of raw energy will make our state prosperous, notwithstanding 150 years of countering experience. But the truth remains that Pocahontas County and neighboring “route pass-through counties” would be forced into becoming sacrifice zones.

Public comments on the DEIS should focus on whether the need for the project has been established, if the socioeconomic impacts have been properly assessed, and how the environmental or historical issues have been addressed through avoidance or mitigation. Examination of this DEIS raises serious concerns that too many of the previous 35,000 public comments have been either ignored or deferred for later. These weaknesses include lack of specific stream crossing plans; no identification of water sources for dust control; no identification of private drinking water wells near blasting areas; inadequate assessment of impacts to fisheries and other aquatic resources; no specific mitigation measures for karst terrain and caves; and inadequate mitigation measures to address the 73 percent of the pipeline route highly susceptible to landslides.

If constructed, the ACP will have major consequences for Pocahontas and surrounding counties. Get informed.

Respectfully,
Allen Johnson
Frost