Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

April 22 letters to the editor

Albright Dam removal a win for climate resilience

The results of climate change have created uncertainty about the future for young people. With the climate emergency intensifying each year, contamination threats, and increasing water scarcity, it is unclear what the environment will be like for future generations. However, this Earth Day we are reminded there is hope, specifically on the Cheat River. Last week, leaders from the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visited the small river town of Albright to announce $1 million in National Fish Passage Program funding for the removal of First Energy’s Albright Power Station Dam.

Once heavily polluted from acid mine drainage, the Cheat River is thriving thanks to the hard work of community members. The removal of the Albright Dam is the next step towards holistic river restoration ensuring bigger and better fish, public safety, access and recreation and climate resilience. Paddlers and fishers will enjoy the reconnected 75 miles of passage, along with habitat restoration. Dam removal and restoration work will result in contracts for businesses, and, upon completion, increased river use will provide opportunities for local green-collar jobs.

The removal of the Albright Dam is much more than its elimination. It is a reminder to young folks that change is possible in the Mountain State. One of the most powerful actions we can take collectively is coming together as young people, communities, organizations and elected officials to create a better future. I am hopeful that we can continue to better and grow our communities along the river. It is encouraging to know that young people can impact the future decisions being made to secure a more just future in West Virginia. By insisting on a new reality, we will increase access to a clean, safe, healthy Cheat River. Hope is just downstream.

Happy Earth Day!

Grace Dever
WVU Center for Resilient Communities

Climate change a ‘war we can’t afford to lose’

The war in Ukraine threatens to destabilize the planet. Climate change is doing the same. There is a common cause for both: our over-dependence on fossil fuels.

Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels from Russia is funding Putin’s war in Ukraine while he pursues his megalomaniacal purposes.

Oil and gas companies in the U.S., along with politicians — including our own senators — are using the war to rationalize more drilling and fracking in the U.S., ignoring the real war at our doorstep; the war for a livable planet. But doubling down on fossil fuels is a false solution that only perpetuates the problems that got us here in the first place.

Just like a conventional war, propaganda and lies are used to mold public opinion. Putin is using wild propaganda to justify his genocide in Ukraine. The fossil fuel industry has perpetrated a multi-decade, multibillion dollar disinformation propaganda and lobbying campaign to delay climate action by confusing the public and policymakers about the climate crisis and its solutions while the industry generates vast wealth for itself.

Like most wars, money is needed to fund this endeavor. Federal taxpayer-funded grants, subsidies and tax incentives help fuel the climate crisis by providing financial incentives for continued extraction. Conservative estimates put U.S. direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry at roughly $20 billion per year, with 20% currently allocated to coal and 80% to natural gas and crude oil.

The war for a livable planet is one we cannot afford to lose. It is time to demand renewable energy and stop subsidizing the companies responsible for the destruction of our planet.

As Dr. Svitlana Krakovska, a Ukrainian climate scientist and member of the International Panel on Climate Change said, “We will not surrender in Ukraine, and we hope the world will not surrender in building a climate-resilient future.” Krakovska made this same point in the National Public Radio interview on April 15 about the “war we can’t afford to lose.”

Duane Nichols
Randi Pokladnik
Uhrichsville, Ohio