Bravo! Richard Laska.
I would like to offer a counter to the opinions concerning the ACP expressed in a letter to the editor from the January 3rd issue of The Pocahontas Times.
The writer of this letter, while assuring us that he is generally tolerant and that there are respectable arguments from both sides of the issue, quickly devolves into a purely partisan argument against the pipeline. There is no more mention of respectable arguments from the other side.
His argument against the pipeline consists mostly of the standard clichés of “not in my backyard,” and “we have to stop the greedy billionaires and evil corporations from enriching them- selves while ruining our environment.”
He states that the county gets no long-term benefit from this construction as if that is the sole criteria for judging cost versus benefit for any project. He does not mention the short-term benefits, and he does not see beyond his own short- sightedness for the long-term benefits.
Here are a few things I have observed about the effects of the pipeline on Pocahontas County thus far:
I live a few miles down Highway 28 from the pipeline crossing, and I have watched thousands of tons of gravel from our quarry at Mill Point and thousands of tons of cross ties from our local sawmills go by my house heading to the pipeline. The trucks hauling this gravel and cross ties are local trucks with local drivers running on fuel from local suppliers.
I have seen temporary toilets, temporary job-site office trailers, and dumpsters from our local suppliers on the pipeline site.
Several of my neighbors have gotten high-paying jobs on the pipeline, a rarity in our county, especially for young people. These jobs could last several years and and will be quite a windfall for these young people, especially with all the overtime due to come.
Other neighbors have installed RV campsites on their property to accommodate some of the pipeline workers and stand to make $600-$800 per month on each one for the two or three years the local construction will go on.
Every business in Marlinton and the surrounding areas will get a boost in sales, especially the grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and gas stations.
Also, the short-term benefits the pipeline brings to our county will be brought to every county in every state the pipeline goes through. Even though the people in those counties are not Pocahontas County people, they are fellow Americans, just like us.
America has recently become energy independent, and for those of us old enough to live through the Arab oil embargo in the early 70s, that is a relief. The way we became independent was to never give up on our search for oil and gas, new ways of extracting it, and new ways of delivering it.
The ACP is part of that search and part of the long-term benefits of living in a country that is energy independent. I am sure a lot of the European nations at the mercy of the Russian pipelines would like to be in our position.
There are long-term jobs at the extraction end of the pipeline as well as at the terminus end in delivery and distribution, and there are maintenance jobs from one end to the other. All of these jobs will go to our fellow Americans, and some of those long-term maintenance jobs will be in Pocahontas County.
I spent 42 years in the construction industry, and every project I was involved in during the last 30 years of my career had an EPA permit. I have not seen the EPA permit for the pipeline and the requirements and conditions for construction and maintenance from the EPA or any of the other permitting agencies connected to the pipeline. Somehow, though, I have a feeling that they may be a bit more stringent than the EPA regulations I had to deal with. I do not think there is much chance that a wash-out will get neglected, at least as long as the letter writer opposing the ACP has a telephone and the number to the nearest EPA complaint desk.
Dealing with Frontier makes me feel like I’ve been rode hard and put up wet.
My internet service has been completely unreliable for more than seven weeks now. Hours on the phone to Frontier, probably 20+ hours on the phone and on hold.
During my extensive discussions with various Frontier representatives, they have told me:
• There is no maintenance of phone cables/lines occurring in Pocahontas County.
• There is no money remaining in their budget to maintain or repair phone cables/lines in our county.
• There are no personnel dedicated to maintenance and replacement of phone cables/lines in this county.
• There are so few technicians that the average wait for a service call is over two weeks.
• Our entire state is a “no escalation zone,” meaning that once you have an appointment generated by their scheduling computer, that appointment cannot be changed, even if Frontier wrongly cancelled your ticket without your consent. Once a ticket is closed or cancelled, the customer goes to the back of the line with a new ticket.
* The only hope for money becoming available for replacement/ repair/ maintenance of phone cables is money appropriated by the West Virginia legislature for upgrading phone service to rural West Virginia.
Think about that – our tax dollars are being used by a private quasi-monopoly company to maintain and repair our phone cables. So we pay taxes, and we pay our Frontier bill and both streams of finding go to Frontier.
What does Frontier do with this money?
Although I cannot independently verify the truth of these statements, they do seem to fit our circumstances.
If you are getting a poor response from Frontier in solving your phone or internet problem consider a formal complaint to the Public Service Commission. The PSC does not “regulate internet,” but these are services rendered over the phone lines that are covered under the PSC, therefore rightfully should be considered phone services. This requires filling out a form available on the PSC website – or they will send one to you – having it notarized and sending it in. A formal complaint at least requires Frontier to answer. If enough complaints are filed, the PSC will have to acknowledge there is a problem.
Also write and call our representatives – wvlegisla ture.gov/Senate1/roster.cfm – asking what they intend to do to resolve our issues of poor service. The legislature needs to clarify that the PSC does have jurisdiction over assuring the access to internet and phone service over phone lines, cable or satellite, although the PSC does not regulate internet content or allocation of bandwidth to one provider vs. another provider.
In other words, if you call in an outage of phone or internet services, they should be treated the same as both services are provided over phone lines and both should fall under the jurisdiction of the PSC to assure repairs are made in a timely manner.
These are contract services that we, the customers, are paying for.
If we work together, we can force movement to get better internet service. We need to get the attention of the PSC and the legislature. If the legislature is going to appropriate money to improve internet service in rural areas, let’s hold them accountable that the money is spent appropriately to actually improve and maintain the services available to us, the end users in Pocahontas County.