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.

Finding A Practical and Effective Solution for Carbon Emissions

Can we talk? We need to stop wasting time and come up with a way to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions – now. The recent U.N. report on climate change should scare us into action if nothing else has. Earth’s surface temperatures are virtually certain to rise at accelerating rates between now and 2050, with many serious heat-related consequences, including the disruption of agriculture, wildfires and sea level rise. These will threaten world economic and political stability. This is no hoax. Existential threat would be a better term.

Impeachment Trial of Justice Elizabeth Walker – Day Two

The historic impeachment trial of Justice Beth Walker resumed on October 2, 2018. This trial day was short, consisting of only one witness called by the House impeachment managers and closing arguments by the parties. In a dramatic vote around mid-day, the Articles of Impeachment regarding Walker were rejected by a vote of 32 to 1.

Impeachment Trial of Justice Elizabeth Walker – Day One

Beth Walker is the first of four Justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to face an impeachment trial in the state Senate.  Her trial began Monday, October 1, 2018. She is alleged to have failed to control wasteful spending on working lunches which the Justices enjoyed on argument days and other days when there were administrative of judicial conferences. She is also alleged to have wastefully spent $130,000 on the renovation of her office. During the first hearing day it became clear how the House impeachment managers will seek to convict Walker.

Kavanaugh's Disqualifying Flaw

Yesterday, much of the country was riveted to their televisions, or other devices, watching the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I went a number of places last evening and this was all anyone could talk about. The ostensible issue is whether Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, committed a sexual assault on Ford in 1982 as she claims. The larger and more important issue is what kind of person should serve on the Supreme Court.

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.

Making Sense of the Rockwool Controversy

Plans by Rockwool (formerly Roxul USA, Inc.) to construct a 463,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in the City of Ranson have recently met with a firestorm of opposition. The facility, to be constructed on the old Jefferson Orchards property, will manufacture mineral wool insulation used in home and commercial construction.  Opponents argue that the plant will emit huge amounts of toxic air pollution in close proximity to schools, and claim that the approval process was intentionally under-publicized to avoid opposition. Proponents argue that this is the single largest development project in Jefferson County since the Penn National Casino, and that it will create 150 well-paid manufacturing jobs, boost ancillary business and generate tax revenue for a substantial future period. To a large extent, this has become a contest of values.