Having attended the WV DEP 401 water quality permit public hearing for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) on Tuesday August 1, I was disappointed to see no evidence of either the local radio or the local newspaper in attendance. Reporting on this meeting certainly should be considered important because the pipeline issue has been in the news for about two years now. In addition, no one from the county commission was present to hear the speakers.
There were approximately 30 of them, some speaking in favor and the vast majority speaking in opposition. Most of the favorable comments were from Dominion employees or contractors related to the project and almost all of the negative comments were from local residents.
The DEP explained absolutely nothing about the 401 permit process and made no introductory statement except to say that speakers would be recorded and there was a three minute time limit per speaker. They would not answer questions. The meeting was polite and there was applause from the audience after each speaker.
The water quality in Pocahontas County is a critical topic and worthy of news coverage no matter what the potential source of degradation might be.
This permit is one of the last chances to publically comment on the ACP.
Come on Pocahontas Times, do some fair and unbiased reporting on what the local citizens are thinking and saying.
These are profoundly uncertain times for the public lands that belong to all of us. One of our oldest and most effective laws for protecting them, the Antiquities Act signed by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, is under attack. More than 20 national monuments designated by this law are under “review” by Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in an effort to roll back their protections. Our national parks are chronically under-funded with a serious maintenance backlog of nearly $12 billion. And one of our most effective policies for protecting and enhancing our public lands, the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), needs to be permanently reauthorized and given the funds it is legally entitled to, instead of being held hostage by current political squabbles.
Experiencing the beauty and grandeur of nature here in West Virginia and around the country is a profound spiritual experience for many. For pro-life evangelical Christians like us, it reminds us of our Creator. God’s creation testifies to who God is, and we proclaim this in many of our favorite hymns, such as “How Great Thou Art”: Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works Thy hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee, how great thou art.
The awesome wonder of God’s creation reminds pro-life Christians like ourselves that all of humanity is called to be good stewards of the bounty upon which all life depends, to protect and defend the beauty and purity of the land and water, to have clean skies and fresh air for our children to enjoy. That’s why over 200,000 pro-life Christians across the country have asked our elected leaders “to protect our parks and federal lands, add new ones, and ensure funding so that every American can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.”
Here in “wild and wonderful” West Virginia, protecting our public lands as good stewards allows us to do well by doing good. For example, in 2016, 1.7 million visitors to the six National Park Service sites in West Virginia (e.g. Harper’s Ferry and New River Gorge) generated $87 million for West Virginia’s economy. The Monongahela National Forest is within a day’s drive of about one third of the country and has over 1.3 million visitors annually. It has just about anything a nature lover would want.
To be good stewards of God’s creation and conserve it for future generations to benefit from, we need to support the following policy agenda: (1) defend the Antiquities Act and all the National Monuments it has made possible; (2) support the Portman-Warner National Park Service Legacy Act to help tackle the $12 billion maintenance backlog, and; (3) permanently reauthorize the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide it with the funds it is legally entitled to.
It is the responsibility of each generation to leave a better world for the next one, including our public lands that are part of our birthright. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
President and C.E.O. of The Evangelical