Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

May 7 letters to the editor

Keep permitting under federal power   

On April 28, The Dominion Post reported one of West Virginia’s senators proposes permitting reform to address “regulatory mayhem.” The senator proposes implementing “timelines with clear limits and predictable schedules,” which is laudatory but also suggests permitting responsibility be accorded to the states. The proposal does not specify whether regulatory and permitting authority would lie with agencies in state executive branches or with state legislatures.  

If the goal is to address “regulatory mayhem,” is vesting states with primary regulatory and permitting authority really the best solution? There are organizational and structural differences between and among state governments that tend to amplify, rather than reduce, “regulatory mayhem.” This tendency would make it harder to ensure the consistency one would expect for environmental compliance and permitting review.  

More so, in the event of lawsuits regarding permitting violations or disputes, vesting states with primary permitting authority would greatly complicate adjudication. David Beard’s article references the Mountain Valley Pipeline. To the extent that pipelines represent interstate commerce, regulatory and permitting responsibility at the federal level is more consistent with the U.S. Constitution.  

Above all, environmental protection, as effected through regulation and permitting, is too critical to leave to the states. Comprehensive and effective environmental protection should be viewed as a foundational civil right. Without environmental protections that enable American citizens to enjoy clean water and breathable air and sustainable living landscapes, all other rights become moot.  

Historical events have repeatedly demonstrated the wisdom of assigning environmental protection responsibility to the federal government. Recent events, including the disastrous train derailment and chemical fire at East Palestine, Ohio, provide compelling evidence that more (not less) regulation and also that more robust (not more attenuated) permitting protocols, are what Americans (and the individual states) need.  

Quite clearly, these strengthened regulatory and permitting structures should be enacted, and enforced, at the federal level. Yes, permitting reform is in order, but permitting responsibility should not be moved from the federal wheelhouse. That would be a grave error. 

Chris Benison  

Nursing home ballot ‘harvesting’ not a thing 

Regarding Mac Warner attending a Heritage Foundation sponsored conference in February 2023: In Heritage’s own words, its “mission is to formulate and promote public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense.” Other messages include Christian values and prohibiting reproductive rights.  

Public officials take an oath to uphold the Constitution, which governs the “establishment of religion.” In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court established the “Lemon test” (Lemon v. Kurtzman): “Government can assist religion only if (1) the primary purpose of the assistance is secular, (2) the assistance must neither promote nor inhibit religion and (3) there is no excessive entanglement between church and state.” 

Elected officials are not to exert Christian values through legislation, as it violates the First Amendment. 

Heritage Foundation also propagates election fraud claims and supports limiting early and absentee voting and redistricting. 

Warner brags he removed 400,000 voters from the roles. He doesn’t say what he’s done to promote, encourage or educate voters to participate in elections. 

The secretary of state’s job   is to ensure all eligible voters have access to ballots. That means shift workers, military personnel, college students and traveling laborers should have access to absentee ballots and early voting.  

Warner states nursing home ballot harvesting is a concern: As per CMS regulation §483.10, “Nursing homes should have a plan to ensure residents can exercise their right to vote, whether in person, by mail, absentee or other authorized process.”  Nursing home employees are mandated to assist residents with voting. This includes helping residents get ballots and may require employees to collect ballots from multiple residents to be dropped off at a designated location, like the county clerk’s office. Nursing home residents exercising their right to vote — and employees legally assisting — is not ballot harvesting.    

All West Virginians should know what their rights are and register and participate in our democratic process, from local to federal elections, to guarantee elected officials serve at the will of their constituents. 

Cynthia Nelson 

Trashy roads — literally and metaphorically  

It is against the law to litter the highway. Really? I realize that it would take a litter control officer 24 hours a day to monitor the situation. Picking up litter should be an all-year project, not just prior to athletic or other major events in Morgantown. 

With minimal effort, the guilty parties could wait until they arrive at home or deposit their trash in containers that are readily available at gas stations and other locations. I don’t believe that McDonalds, Wendy’s and other fast-food outlets appreciate the free advertising with their containers strewn all along the roads. 

West Run Road and Van Voorhis Road are just to name two roads while there are many more streets littered on both sides with soda cans, beer cans, etc. Many organizations and politicians table decisions and kick the can down the road. They could have a field day in these areas. 

Cleaning ditches, cutting back overhanging trees and opening culverts are nonexistent. Another disgusting sight is the dead deer along the highways. One has been along the exit to University Town Centre for months.  

Could someone please take responsibility and restore the beauty along the roadways? I applaud the locals who risk their lives picking up garbage along the roads and streams. 

Another situation that my wife and I have complained about to the DOH — from Charleston to Morgantown — concerns Bakers Ridge Road where the road slips toward a 300-foot drop off. There seems to be no urgency or concern. School buses travel on this road daily. A temporary fix would be to make the unsafe section one lane. Guard rails or barriers of some type are nonexistent. We did meet with a representative of the DOH. It wasn’t his area of expertise. 

Ron Lemley 

For healthy kids, start physical activity early  

Did you know the prevalence of severe obesity in youth has doubled over the past 25 years?  

Instilling healthy habits early in life can help to prevent the children in your family from becoming part of this unfortunate statistic. But how do we do that?  

One way to ensure the youth of today are on a path to good health is to be physically active each day. From babies to teens, every child should be active in some way, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  

For infants, this involves participating in tummy time while they are awake for at least 30 minutes a day. For children aged 3-5, three hours of activity is recommended. This can include walking, playing outside, tumbling and playing catch. Kids older than 6 years of age should have at least one hour of physical activity on most days of the week. This is the timeframe a lot of children will start to participate in team sports, which also allow for socialization and competition.  

While physical activity is mostly known for burning calories and aiding in the prevention of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, there are many other benefits as well. Physical activity has also been shown to improve sleep, help keep focus during school, build strong bones and muscles, decrease stress, teach sportsmanship and teamwork and boost self-esteem.  

Encouraging exercise can no doubt be challenging with so much technology in today’s society, but helping your child find an activity they find fun and that the whole family can participate in can help. For more information on living a healthy lifestyle, visit www.healthychildren.org or talk with your pediatrician at your child’s next visit. 

Taylor Lee