Shale Oil and WV Politics

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Two Hot Topics in the Valley Right Now

Two issues this time.

One: Marcellus Shale.
The other: This week's court decision regarding who can and who cannot run for West Virginia State Senate in the 3rd district.
I hope you got to watch Todd Baucher's series this week on efforts to go after shale oil in Ohio and West Virginia. It's a very controversial topic right now. You can see all of Todd's series on wtap-dot-com.
I'm a supporter of environmentally sound efforts to extract and sell this oil.
Every form of energy has its risks. And if we're going to continue using fossil fuels, I'd as soon rely on those over which we as a nation have some control rather than depending on foreign sources.
Having said that, there is one major concern I have about this effort to get the shale oil.
And that is: will getting it and putting it to use truly reduce our reliance on foreign oil? I'm not sure.
While it is theoretically possible to turn what comes out of these deposits into gasoline, it has not yet been proven economically feasible on a large scale.
For the foreseeable future, we will continue to rely on real oil used in the making of real gasoline. And most of that oil comes from overseas.
In that case, shale oil will not help to secure our energy independence at all.
It will make some property owners wealthy and some oil companies, too, but it won't make us any more energy secure.
Now to the battle over the West Virginia state senate race between Senator Donna Boley and former senator, Frank Deem.
Deem had wanted to run against Boley this year, even though he could not be seated if he won.
That's because he is from Wood County, as is David Nohe, the other senator from this district.
The state constitution says no two members of the state senate can come from the same county if the district covers more than ONE county.
Deem believes this long-standing rule is a violation of the concept of one-man, one vote.
My good friend, Mr. Deem, and I…dis-agree on this issue.
As I told him a couple of months ago, the structure of the West Virginia legislature is similar to the structure of the U.S. Congress.
There, a small state like West Virginia has the same number of U.S. Senators - two - as does California, even though California has many times the population of West Virginia.
Is that unfair to California? Perhaps.
But that in-equality is balanced by the U.S. House, whose 435 members represent the identical number of people across the U.S.
It was the nation's and the state's way of balancing the interests of urban areas against rural areas, and small states against big states.
My hat's off to Mr. Deem for raising the question, but the State Supreme Court made the right decision in rejecting his candidacy.
That's this week's editorial.
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