Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

March 13 letters to the editor

Not enough proof harm reduction works

This letter is in response to the editorial published March 5. The editor took great liberty in drawing conclusions about my character and opining the virtues of harm reduction programs. However, the only factual basis for the narrative was a singular quote taken from a 45-minute conversation with Health Right.

Had the entire dialogue been observed, a clearer picture would’ve emerged. I came with an open mind and a wealth of research on harm reduction. I asked engaging questions that not only I — but more importantly, my constituency — wanted answered.

You see, Kingwood has experience with needle exchange. In 2019, the only full year of operation, Kingwood was littered with dirty needles. They were found in playgrounds, parks, sidewalks, front yards, flowerpots and the list goes on. I wanted to know how Health Right would guarantee that history wouldn’t repeat itself. I was told that nothing is 0%, and therein lies the rub.

There was a glaring lack of statistics provided in both the editorial and Kingwood’s meeting with Health Right. If these programs are truly beneficial to a community, then surely that information could be provided — not hypotheticals, but factual data showing success. It wasn’t. The only two statistics I am certain of are these:

  • 0% — number of accidental needle sticks that are acceptable.
  • 0% — risk I’m willing to shift from a small addict population to the entire community.

Elected officials must sometimes make difficult decisions for the greater good. Since assuming office, my guiding principle on decision-making has been: Does this make Kingwood a better or worse place to live and raise a family? So, I did ask how the harm reduction program makes Kingwood a better place to raise a family — because I genuinely wanted to know. Unfortunately, no answer has been given.

Josh Fields
Kingwood City Council

DEP should not have approved permit 

Regarding the West Virginia Air Quality Final Determination (Permit No. R13-3533), issued March 7, this final permit has been improved over the draft permit. A provision is included to monitor the oxidation catalyst units to prevent them from operating with deactivated catalysts that would emit increased carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. (See also: FrackCheckWV.org)

However, this permit should not have been granted. I am convinced the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has far more latitude for pollution prevention than its strict interpretation of the regulations involved here. The Morgantown Industrial Park is clearly a unique location for a number of reasons that would justify postponement or cancellation of this permit.

This MIP site is in a valley that includes many schools, churches, residential areas and special health care facilities, etc. Also, the site is part of a seven year and $25 million project titled the Marcellus Shale Energy & Environment Laboratory (MSEEL), the results of which are relevant to the siting and operation of this science facility, yet the MSEEL final report isn’t available.

The air pollution estimates in tons per year listed in the final permit are: Particulate matter, 3.89; nitrogen oxides, 67.4; carbon monoxide, 34.22; volatile organic compounds, 40.34; hazardous air pollutants, 14.41; and formaldehyde, 6.68. Some 55,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide will also be emitted. That is when the system is operating within specifications.

Many people suspect this facility is a wolf in sheep’s clothing — that it is a crypto currency mining operation. In any case, our state government should not approve pollution permits for facilities that insult the public interest simply for private gain. The authority of the DEP secretary is certainly that comprehensive.

The Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition and others have raised issues and maintain the Morgantown Industrial Park is not an appropriate location for this pollution. We are recommending that the City of Morgantown appeal this permit to the West Virginia Air Quality Board.

Duane Nichols

Time running out to address global warming

On Feb. 28, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report, drawing on thousands of scientific studies.

The report amplifies the dire warnings contained in the panel’s special report of October 2018: Nations need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 50% by 2030 and substantially eliminate fossil fuel emissions by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change; and we’re way behind schedule.

We are already seeing severe impacts from the 1.1 degrees Celsius warming that has occurred since industrialization: the worst drought in 1,200 years in the western U.S.; more severe wildfires; more extreme weather events.

Failure to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C will produce even more catastrophic impacts: hundreds of millions of people affected by floods, deadly heat waves and severe drought; loss of up to 8% of the world’s farmland and 70-90% of coral reefs; more crop failures and wildfires; the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Some places will be hit harder than others (mainly poor people who have done little to contribute to the crisis), but everyone will be affected. (A U.S. government report issued Feb. 15 estimates that U.S. coastlines will experience, on average, one foot or more of sea level rise by 2050.)

The severe and effectively irreversible consequences of failure to timely reduce carbon pollution make climate change the most important issue of our time, and West Virginia’s congressional delegation should act accordingly.

Sen. Capito and Reps. McKinley, Mooney and Miller (and Republicans in general) need to abandon their reflexive opposition to any legislation that would reduce fossil fuel use. And Sen. Manchin needs to recognize that blocking essential climate legislation for the sake of deficit reduction will ultimately result in far greater costs to the country and the world. We must act now.

Terry Schnell

Cancel or withdraw permit for MIP plant

I request that West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection permit (R13-3533) authorizing Marion Energy Partners to construct a plant on the proposed property within the Morgantown Industrial Park  not be issued (or be cancelled or withdrawn).

The multi-dimensional air contamination, invasive sound and other risks to the environmental quality of the locale are too great — not just for the existing commercial installations in the area, but for the elementary school, the PACE center, the large public park complex, the Ruby McQuain Event Center, the outdoor athletic fields and the multiple mall complexes located within short distances, etc.

The Marion Energy Partners’ development would also violate the full intent of the West Virginia Code’s protection of municipalities (State Code 8-12-19) from development within a mile of a city corporate limits when life and safety in the city are at risk.

I believe the rejection of this permit application is definitely in order to prevent the devaluation of the locale due to health and safety considerations for everyone who works in, resides in or visits the area.

I submitted this information to the West Virginia Air Quality Branch for its consideration earlier in order to ensure that it has been informed as to the unique nature of this site and to discourage possible similar permits in the future.

Don Spencer

Think about Ukraine, not rising gas prices

Despite the looming inflation ahead, nothing that Americans will face can come near to the grief and horror that is gripping Ukraine right now.

Paying a little extra gas tax is the least we can do to help. We will happily adjust our budget to accommodate this step toward an end to Putin’s war.

Barbara and Norval Rasmussen