Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Feb. 12 letters to the editor

New methane rule is crucial for W.Va.

It’s estimated almost a quarter of today’s global warming is caused by methane gas.

This isn’t just an environmental concern, it’s a health concern. Smog from methane impairs lung function, triggers asthma attacks and aggravates diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema, putting children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions at the highest risk. Additionally, toxic compounds like benzene and xylene — known human carcinogens — are also emitted from oil and gas development alongside methane and volatile organic compounds.

More than half of West Virginians — who already face a public health crisis — live within a mile of an active oil and gas well, and there are approximately 6,500 abandoned and orphaned wells in the state leaking methane.

We know that the elderly are especially vulnerable to chronic health conditions, and our state has one of the oldest populations in the country. West Virginia ranks highest in the nation for prevalence of heart attack and coronary heart disease, has the second highest cancer mortality rate and is among the worst ranked for chronic respiratory disease.

With health care already hard to access, leaving our neighbors vulnerable to this threat is grossly negligent — especially when there are measures we can take to prevent this.

For decades, extractive industries have wreaked havoc on the Appalachian region. Low-producing oil and gas wells are responsible for half of all well-site methane pollution in the country, and Appalachia has the highest quantity of these sites nationwide, with over 180,000 wells. The most populated county in West Virginia, Kanawha County, has 3,303 of these polluting wells — the highest number of low-producing wells in a single county.

It’s clear that pollution from the oil and natural gas sector is a pressing issue in West Virginia, and the supplemental proposal to reduce this harmful pollution represents much-needed action to alleviate the burden felt by West Virginians from extractive industry.

Anna N. Saab

HB 2007 goes against spirit of W.Va.’s motto

When my Appalachian husband and I bought our first home together in Morgantown five years ago, I was sure that we were the future of West Virginia.

We are a newly married, fully employed young couple. We’re active in our community, voting and paying taxes and living the Mountaineer dream. When Gov. Justice announced his Ascend program to attract other young professionals like ourselves a few years later, I truly believed in the Mountain State renaissance. But as our state’s government grows increasingly more restrictive, these Mountaineers are looking elsewhere.

Last week, West Virginia’s House of Delegates expedited a highly specialized piece of legislation, HB 2007, seeking to eliminate access to gender-affirming care for adolescents.

Why, less than two full months into 2023, is such a specialized bill taking priority over decisions on income tax, infrastructure projects and other bipartisan issues?

When a public hearing was scheduled, I decided to attend, and what I witnessed was astounding: with only 48 hours’ notice, hundreds of members and allies of the population this bill claims to protect descended our Capitol. They spoke passionately in opposition to the bill, sharing stories of themselves or loved ones who rely on the care that HB 2007 seeks to ban. Not one of the bill’s sponsors was in the room to hear them, yet it was passed the next day.

The message is clear: our legislators do not respect parental rights. This bill directly inhibits a family’s ability to access evidence-based care for gender dysphoric children, a serious diagnosis not taken lightly by parents or care providers.

Rather than listen to their constituents, the House of Delegates has politicized a marginalized community for political advancement while knowingly putting trans adolescents at risk.

The prospect of being a mother in a state where legislators willfully impede a parent from caring for their child is frightening. My husband and I are planning for our future and our family, but if we intend to live by our state’s motto, “Montani Semper Liberi,” we won’t be long for West Virginia.

Brenna Lynch

Reader thanks funeral home for uplifting quotes

I would like to thank Jared Jenkins, Justin Dalton, Ethan Umstead, Tabitha Whetzel and all at Fred L. Jenkins Funeral Home for the wonderful quotations that I read in the paper. Being single with no family, these quotes are uplifting. I enjoy reading them continually.

Glenn Gallagher

God not gender-fluid; neither are humans

Rev. Zac Morton’s recent letter to the editor (“Anti-trans is anti-Scripture,” DP-02-05-23) contained several misconceptions.

Opposing experimental and chemical castration isn’t “anti-trans.” Opposing bodily disfigurement isn’t “anti-trans.” To assist those with gender dysphoria, we must uphold bodily integrity. We must support legitimate medicine to heal and restore to physical, psychological and spiritual wholeness. No one should be demonized. Nor should females be demonized who oppose losing their rights to privacy, safety and opportunity to biological males utilizing single sex spaces/activities for females.

Mixed metaphor language to describe God in the Scriptures is fitting, as God is pure spirit. God is not gender-fluid. Rather, God is without gender. Unlike God, humans are a mix of body and spirit. We are created, born and live out our lives in sexed bodies that are immutably male or female.

That being said, referring to God as “Father” took place in Old Testament times. Jesus regularly referred to His Heavenly Father. God is referred to as the father of Israel and of certain peoples. “Fatherhood” imagery is often present even without the word Father being used. Jesus invites us into an intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father, where we call him “Abba.”

The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts was a castrated male. Castration renders him infertile, but he remains biologically male. Likewise, a female with her uterus and breasts removed is unable to bear or breastfeed a child, but she remains fully female.

It is a grave disservice promoting the false notion that male and female are interchangeable. Rather than impossibly trying to bypass our sexed bodies (written into our very being, down to our chromosomal level), we should encourage lovingly accepting our bodies, and instead challenge “gender” stereotypes. This offers a holistic and healthier perspective on the dignity of the human person/body.

Patricia M. Johnson

Food service inspections think schools ‘low-risk’?

I am concerned about the revamped food service inspection process detailed in the Friday, Feb. 3, paper, which lists county schools (along with hot spots and coffee shops) as low risk. Feeding the young is not low risk.

Medium risk facilities include deli counters and fast food. (Don’t schools make sandwiches with deli meat or cheese?)

High risk facilities include sit-down restaurants and child care facilities. (Are child care meals different from school meals?)

What concerns me most is the presumption that county schools aren’t preparing food from scratch (or raw). Aren’t schools buying raw beef from local farmers to make tacos or sloppy joes? Do school cooks prepare chicken from scratch?

Or is much of the food the school board buys ready to heat (like chicken nuggets, precooked burger patties or breakfast sandwiches)? These concepts are not good for kids or the environment.

Cindy Gay

Let doctors, parents guide kids’ medical care

I grew up in the coal fields of West Virginia and feel driven to take care of the people in our state. That drive led me to become a doctor and pursue family medicine. We have a lot of work to do to make a healthier future for ourselves and our children. I am grateful to be a part of that effort.

Throughout my life, I have learned many things from the people of this state, including kindness and the uniquely free lifestyle West Virginians lead — one without influence of those beyond our borders.

The radical out-of-state influences behind current attacks on transgender West Virginians goes against everything I’ve been taught.

HB 2007 is a direct denial of the principles I was raised with. This is the result of outside groups using our lawmakers to tell parents in West Virginia that they don’t know how to do right by their children. That they shouldn’t have the freedom to make critical medical decisions about what is in their child’s best interest.

Our politicians say they are trying to protect kids. However, gender-affirming care has shown to be lifesaving, standard medical care supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

In attempting to defend themselves, proponents of this bill say they “Googled” information and spout lies while ignoring evidence-based medicine. This bill and others like it deny the rights of West Virginia children’s most powerful ally —– their own parents.

I urge all West Virginians to tell our elected officials to vote “no” on HB 2007 and demand that parents be able to seek evidence-based medical care for their child and make important medical decisions — not politicians or outside folks trying to tell us how to live.

Savannah Lusk