Panhandle Progressive

Electric Power Generation and the Environment: An Insider’s View of Successful Air Pollution Reduction and the Coming Transition to Low Carbon Power

Today there is much concern about climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Twenty years ago the immediate problem was somewhat different -- harmful gasses and particulate matter emitted from the stacks of power plants. Since then we have had huge success in solving that problem. Our air is the cleanest it has been in decades. An engineer and industry insider gives an explanation of how this was accomplished and what it can tell us about dealing with the problem of greenhouse gasses.

MOONEY WATCH

SNAP Benefits, Work Requirements and West Virginia’s Hungry

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the centerpiece of the nation’s food security safety net. In FY 2016 SNAP benefits, formerly called food stamps, provided $500 million in nutrition assistance to low income West Virginians. On average, 358,000 West Virginians received benefits each month, roughly 20% of our population. These benefits amount to about $1.29 per meal. Yet our state government seems determined to cut recipients from the SNAP rolls. Governor Justice recently signed a law imposing tighter work requirements on under-employed individuals, justified entirely by the old “welfare Cadillac” myth about recipients taking advantage of public benefits. These new state restrictions will reduce the number of SNAP recipients among the vulnerable low-wage population. Furthermore, the 2018 federal Farm Bill is proposed to do much the same. In the next several weeks, conferees from the U.S. House and Senate will meet to work out whether the Farm Bill will impose not just temporary disqualification for certain under-employed people, but actual penalties. This harsh approach was favored by House Republicans, including Congressman Alex Mooney, for the emptiest of reasons.

What Campaign Contributions Tell Us About Congressman Alex Mooney

The Federal Election Commission recently published the 2018 First Quarter campaign contribution filings by candidates for federal office. Among these was the filing of our own Congressman Alex Mooney. Mooney has been very successful in raising money, both for the primary just past (he was unopposed) and for the general election coming up in November. Running for Congress is expensive and anyone who hopes to be elected must raise money. But the sources of Mooney’s contributions for this election cycle raise substantial doubt that he will be much interested in the welfare of West Virginia and her citizens.

The Rich Benefit Bigly From Trump's Tax Reform

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has added mightily to the already serious income and wealth inequality in America. Yet our state's Republican representatives in Congress seem oblivious that most people in this state are poor relative to the rest of the country. They have boasted about what amounts to the crumbs on the table that middle and lower income West Virginians gain from this Act. For example, Rep. Alex Mooney, who represents much of the Panhandle in Congress, announced that he voted for "tax cuts for all West Virginians." Always obsequious when it comes to the White House, Mooney said "President Donald Trump has been a true leader on delivering tax relief for all Americans and I am looking forward to continuing to work with him to create more jobs and to keep our economy growing." There is no other way to put it -- this emphasis on the illusory benefits enjoyed by the broad middle of our society is just willfully deceptive. The true winners under the TCJA are the rich, who will benefit at the expense of the rest of us.

Congressman Alex Mooney Fails Economics

President Trump recently cut a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for three months. Republican leadership had wanted a deal to fund the government for eighteen months so they would not have to revisit the issue before the 2018 mid-term elections. When the components of this deal reached the House for a vote, 90 Republicans voted against raising the debt ceiling, including Rep. Alex Mooney (WV 2d). Mooney issued a statement, saying "I voted against raising the debt limit because our national debt is already too high. West Virginian families have to balance their budgets each month and the federal government should do the same." Really? Balance the federal budget each month? This statement shows that Mooney misunderstands the issues of public debt and deficit spending, or assumes that his constituents do. It is probably both.

Rep. Alex Mooney’s Feckless Vote on Healthcare

On May 4, 2017, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a narrow margin of 217 to 213, sending the bill to the Senate for deliberation. This Bill would repeal the majority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) known as Obamacare, a promise made by Donald Trump and numerous Republican legislators during the 2016 campaign. It is hard to describe in measured tones the destructive impact the AHCA would have on West Virginia, starting with the fact that 175,000 of us would be rendered without health insurance by the stroke of a pen. However, Rep. Alex Mooney (WV 2nd) voted in favor of this law. How could this have happened?

Rep. Alex Mooney Ignores the Panhandle's Economic Needs

Let’s face it. Panhandle voters did themselves no favor when they elected Alex Mooney as West Virginia’s 2nd District Congressman. Characteristics we’d like to see in a Congressman – independence of thought, sensitivity to constituent needs, flexibility in problem solving – appear to be lacking in Rep. Mooney. His actions and statements show him to be one dimensional. Whatever outrage President Trump proposes for the environment with the false promise of putting coal miners back to work is just fine by him.

Rep. Alex Mooney Deals a Blow to West Virginia's Mountain Streams

Rep. Alex Mooney (WV 2nd) is celebrating the demise of the Interior Department's Stream Protection Rule. This Rule, made effective in the waning days of President Obama’s tenure, would have created a buffer zone between mountain streams and mine sites and would have protected drinking water in accordance with modern technology. The Rule would have mainly affected mining done by mountaintop removal where mining refuse is pushed into stream valleys. But Rep. Mooney and his Big Coal backers claim that the Rule would have killed over 70,000 jobs in the coal industry. Unfortunately, Rep. Mooney’s grasp of coal economics and employment numbers is feeble, perhaps influenced by his ideological impulse to dance on the grave of the Obama Administration.

Repeal of Obamacare: A Disaster for West Virginia

In January 2016, Congress passed a budget reconciliation bill repealing much of the Affordable Care Act by simply removing the funding for it. President Obama vetoed the bill. Now congressional Republicans threaten to do the same in the upcoming new session. Most likely, Congress will not have a replacement for the ACA ready to go for quite some time. Republican leaders propose to make some provisions of the repeal effective immediately and defer the effectiveness of other provisions until a replacement bill can be passed.

Broadband in West Virginia

On December 4, 2016 the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Technology met to receive the report of the new Broadband Enhancement Council. Unfortunately, few legislators showed up but among those who did were Del. Paul Espinosa (R – Jefferson, 66) and Del. Sarah Blair (R – Berkeley, 59). Many Democrats were defeated in the election and new Delegates have not yet been assigned to committees.