The Intelligencer
NATRIUM - A new industrial complex is taking shape along the Ohio River in Marshall County, one that brings with it an anticipated $500 million price tag, new jobs and a promise of things to possibly come for the local area. Dominion Transmission's natural gas processing facility is the largest piece yet of what local officials hope will be an industrial rebirth for the Ohio Valley. The crown jewel of that rebirth would be an ethane cracker facility along the Ohio River, a multi-billion dollar project that remains in the works as 2012 looms. Even though Dominion's work means new taxes, jobs and growth in Marshall County's industrial sector, the company hasn't been welcomed with open arms by local organized labor leaders. Along W.Va. 2 leading to the 70-acre site - which lies between American Electric Power's Kammer-Mitchell Plant and the PPG Industries plant - one will see many signs placed by those displeased with Dominion's hiring practices, urging the company to "Build here, hire here." Article Photos Photo by Casey Junkins Touring the Dominion Resources Natrium processing plant construction site Thursday are, from left, David Fitch, engineering manager; and Bob Orndorff, managing director of state and local government affairs. Dominion officials counter that they have hired local workers, with 52 of the 84 construction workers currently on site having been hired locally. "One way or the other, this plant is coming up," Bob Orndorff, managing director of state and local government affairs for Dominion, told the Sunday News-Register. Plant Profile Dominion officials plan to be able to process 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day upon completing the project's first phase, with the capacity expected to double to 400 million cubic feet per day once the company receives further supply commitments. An air emissions permit currently pending before the state Department of Environmental Protection covers the entire 400 million cubic feet per day proposal. Once the "wet" Marcellus and Utica shale gas travels to the Dominion plant via the company's existing pipeline network, the ethane, butane, propane and other natural gas liquids will be separated from the methane gas so that all the products can be individually marketed. Orndorff expects the initial phase to be up and running by December 2012. Once construction is complete, officials believe 45-50 full-time, permanent employees will work to operate and maintain the facility. Chesapeake Energy, currently the Ohio Valley's most active natural gas driller, has agreed to supply the Dominion facility with 100 million cubic feet of natural gas per day for processing. Chesapeake also maintains an option to provide the plant with an additional 100 million cubic feet per day. A company such as Chesapeake is known in the industry as a "producer" because the company sells the gas that it pumps out of the ground. Because the "wet" gas requires processing before it can go to market, Chesapeake and other producers send their gas to companies such as Dominion, Caiman Energy or MarkWest Liberty for processing. The separated gas products are then ready for use, with the ethane possibly going to a cracker plant. Ethane The Dominion facility should not be confused with another potential plant called an ethane cracker. At a cracker plant, ethane separated at the processing facility would be further processed into ethylene to make plastic. "We will pipe the ethane from here to wherever the producer wants to send it," said Fitch. Once separated from the gas stream, the propane and butane will be kept in tanks on the Dominion site. However, Fitch said this cannot be done with ethane because of its volatility. "We are working to find a solution to our ethane problem," said Orndorff. "It is up to someone to build a cracker." With government leaders still working to bring ethane crackers to West Virginia and Ohio, Shell Chemicals is preparing to announce the location of its cracker early next year. In the meantime, Chesapeake and Caiman have signed agreements to send their ethane for cracking along the Gulf Coast or in Canada, respectively. Labor Controversy A Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research study shows that Dominion's project would create an additional $76.6 million impact for the local economy. A number this high, however, would only be achieved if the company would use a 100 percent local labor force instead of a 100 percent non-local labor force, the study notes. Dominion spokesman Chuck Penn said that as of last Wednesday, there were 84 construction employees working on the site, 52 of whom were hired locally. "We have an excellent track record by any standard," Penn said. Orndorff said Texas-based Chicago Bridge & Iron won the contract to build the plant "predicated on their technical expertise and experience in building facilities like Natrium as an engineering, procurement and construction contractor." "We tell them (CB&I) what we want to have when they are finished," said Orndorff. "We don't tell them who to hire." However, officials with the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation want to see Dominion hire more local construction workers. The union has placed signs throughout the Ohio Valley to remind the company to hire local employees. "Would you rather have a local person working on a job in your county, or someone from Texas?" said Walter "Fuzz" LaRue, a fair contracting representative for West Virginia's Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation. "We would like to see a bunch of local people hired to do this project." Orndorff is concerned the local union leaders are "blemishing" the company's reputation while making the Mountain State may look less attractive to other investors because of the union issues. "The ACT Foundation is jeopardizing other operations in West Virginia. They are hurting this state's chances to get an ethane cracker," he said. Future Orndorff knows the liquids-rich Marcellus and Utica shale gas should allow the construction of similar processing plants along the Ohio River. "The potential is there for a lot more investment," he said. "As the Utica in Ohio is developed, there will be even more gas to process." "We are currently in the midst of an unprecedented level of investment in the state. In 2011 and 2012, we will invest nearly $1 billion in new construction all of which is designed to get West Virginia gas to the marketplace," Penn added.
Charleston Gazette
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Local communities in West Virginia lose millions of dollars when out-of-state construction workers, rather than local workers, are hired for projects such as building Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and processing facilities, a new study finds. The study, conducted by Marshall University's Center for Business and Economic Research, examines the local economic impacts of building a hypothetical natural gas processing facility similar to the one being built in Marshall County by Dominion Resources. The Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation asked Marshall researchers to compare the economic impact of hiring local workers, as opposed to out-of-state workers. Dominion Resources, based in Richmond, Va., hired CBI-Lummus, a Texas contractor, to build the facility on the shores of the Ohio River in Natrium, a town north of New Martinsville and south of Moundsville. The economic impact of paying wages to local workers, Marshall researchers found, is eight times higher than paying wages to non-local workers, who live here only temporarily. Chuck Penn, a spokesman for Dominion Resources, said, "We put bids out for that particular $500 million project. It is one of three projects in West Virginia in which we are investing just under $1 billion. "The successful builder was out of Houston, Texas. The contract was predicated solely on their technical expertise. There was no company in West Virginia that had the combination of attributes we needed. "Six of the first seven sub-contractors hired by CBI were union contractors," Penn added. "And as of last week, 50 of their 80 employees were local employees. We encouraged them to hire local workers." The economic model used by Marshall researchers is based on a fictional project, similar to Dominion's building project, which lasts for 30 months, employs a peak of 600 workers and costs $500 million. The Marshall study estimates a local community could lose $76.6 million in wages from such a project, when transient workers from distant states are brought in. Using local workers, the study found, to build such a gas processing facility could infuse $86.4 million in wages into the local economy. Hiring non-local workers would reduce that figure to $9.8 million. Typically, most of the money they spend goes to hotels and restaurants. The state of West Virginia would also lose more than $3 million in tax receipts. Steve White, head of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, said Wednesday that wages paid to construction workers are often much larger than wages paid to permanent workers hired to operate the new facilities. "Too often, people overlook the importance of construction employment -- often the biggest economic impact of projects like these. "Construction wages will be more significant than wages paid to 50 permanent full-time workers at this particular facility," White said. "Construction jobs are sometimes the biggest bang you are going to get." Penn said, "We are perplexed by this continuous assertion that we are being remiss in our responsibility. People should look at Dominion's record, which spans a century. "Today, Dominion has 1,300 West Virginia employees; 80 percent of them are union employees. We have a $142 million annual payroll in West Virginia," Penn said. "We have 16,000 employees country-wide." Dave Efaw, secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades, part of ACT, said, "West Virginia loses hundreds of jobs and millions in revenue when companies import workers." Local service industries, including restaurants and hotels, typically experience "an upswing when non-local construction workers are used," the Marshall study states. But historically, those industries have lower-paying jobs than other industries, such as retail and medical services, which are patronized far more extensively by local workers. The new Marshall study did not look into additional possible economic losses to local communities when out-of-state construction contractors import more building materials and supplies from other out-of-state companies. Efaw said members of ACT who work in West Virginia "are trained and certified drug-free construction workers with a successful track record working in the gas industry. "Some company officials say they can't find qualified workers," Efaw said. "We say they're just not looking. Skilled, local workers are here and ready to work." Reach Paul J. Nyden at or 304-348-5164.
The State Journal
A researcher at Marshall University says there are still hurdles to overcome in adjusting the traditional, inflexible electrical grid to accept wind energy in Appalachia. Wind, a relatively small contributor to the state’s energy portfolio, has recently experienced some growth in the state. Increasing concerns about cost to the system and other hurdles have slowed the proliferation of wind generators in the state and nationwide. “As the amount of installed wind has increased, it has been observed that the marginal costs of wind to the system are greater than the marginal cost of turbine operation due to the variable nature of wind and the resulting dependence on other generators in the system for balance,” the report states, citing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The report further states that much of the literature argues that integrating wind successfully is not a question of reliability, but cost and efficiency. Reliability, the report states, is a surmountable energy requirement, thought energy efficient wind integration is more challenging. Christine Risch, director of research at the Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research, created the review of recommendations on the integration of wind and electrical supply. Some of her findings were presented Oct. 26 at the Southern Appalachian Regional Wind Energy Institute annual meeting. “Research is not complete on it by anybody, and all the major players and electric suppliers are still looking at it,” she said. “There will be so much information coming out on this topic over the next couple of years.” “If some protocols and policies aren’t put in place, we won’t get the wind we want, and we hope that we will,” Risch said. The good news for wind is that reliability, Risch said, has not really been affected by wind incorporation, a finding supported by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. “They do have some pretty strong recommendations if wind is going to increase as a share of electricity generation,” Risch said. “(NERC) is strongly recommending that the system becomes more flexible. We have this sort of incumbent system that’s not very flexible on many levels, especially during the light load times of the day.” The problem with integrating wind is that it only produces when the wind is blowing at the correct speed. Compounding the issue is that demand for electricity also fluctuates from peak to low demand. “When there is low load the system is more inflexible than during the day when the load is increasing and generators are coming online to serve the increasing load,” Risch said. At night, when wind is strong, Risch said, it can’t always be utilized. Dialing down traditional power plants typically results in some sort of efficiency loss or increased emissions, which is contradictory to the benefits gained by wind energy. Natural gas and some newer coal plants, Risch said, are becoming more flexible. Being able to decrease generation of electricity without efficiency loss would be essential to more widespread integration of wind, due to its intermittency. The other option – battery storage of wind during times wind is out-producing demand – can be costly. “There’s a lot of ways to make a system more flexible, but putting into practice may not be as easy as just writing it down on paper,” Risch said. ” … Large batteries can be very expensive.” Storage is being used on a small-scale basis, but is not yet being widely used, Risch said. Focusing more on shifting electrical load and demand would make non-baseload energy sources more viable, she added. In addition to storage, further development of demand-side technology, on-turbine technology and a number of other developments will be necessary for widespread wind integration. Altering components in wind turbines to make them act in a manner similar to conventional generators is being talked about in academic circles, Risch said, but not much anywhere else. “Moving peak times from mid-day to more of the midnight hours would solve some of the problems,” Risch said. “It’s very hard to shift heating and cooling demand, though. For residential, that’s our biggest load.” If wind is not integrated correctly and traditional power plants are asked to make up for the difference during wind’s intermittency, emissions may actually increase and efficiency may go down, and the benefit of wind may not be realized, Risch said. Fossil fuel prices are also directly tied to the success of wind energy. “As wind penetration increases, the existing fleet of baseload plants is likely to be forced to operate below their preferred levels of output more frequently than before,” the report states. “Wind is expected to displace conventional generation, but not at a megawatt-per-megawatt basis. As wind expands, more generation capacity, or responsive load, will be needed to respond to more potential output fluctuation.” Low natural gas prices encourage power companies to use natural gas plants, which tend to be more flexible and adaptable to the intermittency of wind. “The past couple years we’ve had more gas, which is good for wind,” Risch said. Wind’s challenges are shared by other renewable sources as well. Solar energy intermittency tends to be more aligned with peak demand times. The impact of the wind turbines being introduced into the system still needs further study, Risch said. She said there are some technologies being recommended to reduce some of the pitfalls of wind energy and its costs on the traditional system. “What are those costs? How do you measure them?” researchers are asking, Risch said. “Are they being assigned accurately or not? There are some questions that when you make these calculations, are you ignoring the contributions that wind plants make?” Risch said at the end of the year, or shortly after, West Virginia will have about 10 megawatts of wind-generated energy capacity. Wind developments are slowing down, but will likely grow slowly, Risch said. “I think people are being a little more cautious because of this integration issue,” Risch said. “No one wants to waste fossil fuel to integrate, even though it is renewable energy. Then there’s the issue of bats, which are pretty important.” Fatalities of bats are a common occurrence and environmental concern associated with wind energy development. Studying the issue further, which many institutions are currently doing, may yield more solutions, many of which could be needed to effectively integrate wind into the grid. “In our region, wind is a pretty small share of generation and generation capacity right now,” Risch said. “So, it’s really not an important issue for us right now in the Atlantic region. It’s bigger in Texas and Washington state and the Midwest because they have higher shares of wind. We are heavily connected, though, particularly to the Midwest, so it affects us.”
Times WV
CHARLESTON — A startling increase in the birthrate of West Virginia teenagers cost state taxpayers $67 million in just one year, according to a new report. The 2011 Report on Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing said that the teen birthrate rose 17 percent from 2007 to 2009 in West Virginia, the only U.S. state to see an increase, The Charleston Gazette reported. The national rate dropped 8 percent over the same period. The increase in teen pregnancies cost West Virginia $67 million in 2008, with 46 percent covered by federal dollars and 54 percent by state and local taxes. The expenditures included $20 million on child-welfare programs; $13 million for public health care and $11 million for incarceration, the report said. Also, $19 million was lost tax revenue because of decreased earnings and spending. “Preventing teen pregnancy makes really, really good economic sense,” Andrea Kane, senior director of policy for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said after the report’s release. Investing in effective teen pregnancy-prevention programs would save money, Kane said Tuesday. West Virginia taxpayers spent $1.5 billion on the 55,964 teen births that occurred in the state between 1991 and 2008, the report said. “That’s money that could be going toward other efforts,” said Jennifer L. Price, senior research associate at Marshall University’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “Specifically, I would think it could go toward ... a more positive preventative project that would have a payoff for the state.” The millions of dollars that could be saved, Price said, could pay for other child-related needs, such as early child care or pediatric dentistry. For every dollar spent in family planning, the report stated, the state would save approximately $4. The family planning dollars are for pregnancy prevention as well as treatment that a teen mother would need during her pregnancy, Price said. Those costs are usually included for care up to the first year of the baby’s life. “It’s a return on investment,” Price said. “If you spend one dollar proactively, then the state will save $4.” Investment in teenage-pregnancy service is essential to the health and welfare of generations of children, according to a report by the Center for Business and Economic Research. “Economic Costs of Mandatory Contraceptive and Pregnancy Care Coverage for Dependent Minors by Health Insurers in West Virginia” addressed another method to save direct costs to taxpayers: contraceptive coverage for minors. Providing contraceptive coverage not only increases access to family planning services, but an individual also gains access to needed information, prescription drugs and devices, and support and care from trained providers — all of which allow individuals to plan pregnancies in responsible ways, said the report, which was presented to state legislators. - See more at:
WV Perinatal Partnership
Welcome, Introductions, and Background of the Project -- Ann Stottlemyer, presiding Presentation: First Baby Initiative Phase I Accomplishments Phase II – First Baby Initiative Project methodology Monthly feedback Password-protected web access Cesarean Section Overview -- David Lagrew, MD, Saddleback Memorial Center, Laguna Hills, California Bishop Scores and Labor Inductions -- Luis Bracero, MD, MFM, Women and Children’s Hospital, CAMC, Charleston Strategies for Reducing Unncessary Cesarean Sections--Presentation -– David Lagrew, MD Strategies for Reducing Unncessary Cesarean Sections--Handout -– David Lagrew, MD World Café -- Walk and Talk: What will work for West Virginia Facilitators: Luis Bracero, MD, MFM, Champion David Jude, MD, OB/Gyn, Champion William Holls, MD, MFM, Champion Brenda Dawley, MD, OB/Gyn Kim Farry, MD, OB/Gyn Joseph DeRose, DO, OB/Gyn Recorders: Peggy Thorne-Church, RN, BSN, MBA Marlene Merkle, RN Mary Beth Stewart, RN Phyllis Bradley, RN, BSN June Jett, RN Maureen Schmitt, RN Participants discussed strategies for reducing C-Sections in first-time mothers, barriers that will be faced, and possible solutions as they rotated through discussion groups under three headings: General, Pre-Labor, and Labor. See notes from the discussion groups.
New America Foundation
Under-investing in infrastructure carries costs for households, businesses, and the government by increasing maintenance, wasting time, and allocating resources inefficiently. These costs reduce efficiency and impede economic growth. Quantifying Efficiency Loss Bottlenecks and traffic delays in our ground and air transportation systems are paralleled by inefficiencies across many modes of infrastructure. According to various estimates from government institutions and non-profits organizations, the efficiency lost because of poor infrastructure is probably in excess of $195 billion per year and would be higher if it included private infrastructure networks, such as freight rail or telecommunications, and infrastructure networks that are regulated largely by states and municipalities, such as ports and inland waterways. Roads Americans wasted 4.8 billion hours in traffic in 2009.8 These delays resulted in the waste of 3.9 billion gallons of fuel. Fuel loss alone cost truckers $33 billion, a significant addition to shipping costs for producers. The delays are most acute in the largest metropolitan areas, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles, where travelers spend an average of 70, 70, and 63 hours per year in traffic at an average cost per passenger of over $1,500. Congestion has worsened as the expansion of the highway system has failed to keep pace with usage. Since 1980, mileage of U.S. highways increased 4.5% while the number of passenger cars increased 12.7% and the number of trucks increased 56.4%. As a result, the amount of time wasted has increased dramatically over the past few decades rising from 14 hours per driver in 1982 to 34 hours in 2009. The cost of these delays has increased from $24 billion in 1982 to $115 billion in 2009 dollars. Congestion has also slowed truck freight. Truckers experience 243 million hours of bottleneck delay annually at a cost of $32.15 per hour, in addition to general traffic delay.9 Given that oil prices have increased dramatically in recent years, and are likely to remain elevated, the cost of congestion and poor infrastructure are rising. Aviation Delays on the ground are matched by delays in the air. In 2009, 21% of flights were delayed, down slightly from the 2007 rate of 24%, the highest rate of flight delays in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) history.10 According to the Joint Economic Committee, these flight delays cost a cumulative $40.7 billion and wasted 740 million gallons of fuel.11 A slightly more conservative study sponsored by the FAA found that flight delays negatively impact the economy by $32.9 billion per year, at a cost to travelers of $16.7 billion in 2007 alone.12 Although air traffic and flight delays have moderated since 2007, without capacity expansion flight delays will likely rise again as air traffic grows. Clean Water Poor infrastructure is costing Americans not only when they travel, but also when they stay at home. America’s water pipes are old, ranging in age from 50 to 100 years.13 In 1980, the Environmental Protection Agency notes that 10% of water pipes were already in “poor, very poor, or life elapsed” condition. The Agency expects this number to increase to 45% of all piping by 2020. Further, as pipes age they begin to deteriorate at an exponential rate. If left unaddressed, the funding gap for clean water and drinking water is projected to increase to $122 billion and $102 billion, respectively. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated $13.5 billion to water infrastructure, but that is a drop in the metaphorical bucket compared to current needs.14 Water systems lose between 6 and 25 percent of their water through leaks and breaks, wasting over 7 billion gallons of water each day.15 Public Housing The U.S. Public housing stock also faces a staggering amount of unfunded capital needs. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than $20 billion is currently needed to rebuild and update America’s public housing portfolio.16 While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated $4 billion to address this need, that total falls far short of even conservative estimates of needed repairs and renovations. Public Safety The broken-down state of America’s infrastructure also has high human costs. The most notable failure was the breaking of the levees during Hurricane Katrina, which contributed to the death of 1,800 people. Greater infrastructure investment would have prevented this tragedy and cost far less than the human and capital cost of the flooding that followed the hurricane. In 1998, there was a comprehensive $14 billion plan to buttress the Southern Louisiana levee system by rebuilding the region’s protective wetlands, but it was scuttled by Congress due to cost concerns. In addition to the staggering loss of life, Hurricane Katrina caused between $150 and $200 billion in damage. These estimates do not include the loss of more than environmental and resource damage caused by flooding, and the far-reaching implications of the loss of the natural wetland barrier.17 Infrastructure affects the safety and well-being of Americans even in the absence of natural disasters. The collapse of the I35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesotta in 2007 had nothing to do with the weather. Although the bridge had been categorized as “structurally deficient” as the result of inspections in 1990 and was considered “in need of replacement” in 2005, investment shortfalls resulted in a decision to wait to replace the bridge until 2020, despite the fact that the bridge carried 140,000 vehicles each day.18 The collapse in 2007 resulted in the death of 13 people and the injury of 145 others. Aside from bridge collapses, which may seem extraordinary, reports find that poorly maintained roads may contribute up to a third of all highway fatalities, or more than 14,000 deaths every year.19 Poor infrastructure also manifests in less noticeable dangers to public safety. Water contamination due to broken seals, leaking pipes and deteriorating reservoirs have been attributed to outbreaks of salmonella such as the occurrence that killed one person and sickened 442 others in Alamosa, Colorado in 2008.20 Conclusion The American economy, in aggregate as well as at the individual level, is paying a heavy cost for its aging and deteriorating infrastructure. From wasted fuel to wasted time, lost lives and lost revenue, there is an obvious need to address the economic efficiency gap resulting from poor roads, antiquated air traffic control systems, and other out-of-date infrastructure. Ignoring America’s crumbling infrastructure will only serve to slow an economy that is in the early stages of recovery, and leave the future of American growth on shaky ground.
The Hur Herald
West Virginia, a state that seems to make the nation's worst lists, is now the number one state for increase in teen pregnancy. It is the only state in the nation to see an increase in the rate of teen pregnancy from 2007 to 2009, a period when the national teen birth rate hit a seven-decade low, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The pregnancy rate for West Virginia girls between 15 and 19 years old increased by 17 percent, says the CDC. The Herald was unable to obtain actual numbers of teen pregnancy in Calhoun and regional counties. Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Roger Propst said Calhoun Middle-High School does not keep records regarding students that become pregnant. The CDC says nationally the teenage birth rate fell by 8 percent, reaching a historic low of 39.1 births per 1,000 teens. Providing sex education directed toward birth control is haphazard in the Mountain State, according to Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of the reproductive rights group WV FREE. "Where we fall short is a lack of a comprehensive approach to sex education. We know there is no consistency from county to county and even from school to school," she said. Sex education is a hot button issue, opposed by many religious groups who support abstinence before marriage. A 2008 CDC School Health Profile indicated that most WV high schools did not directly address prevention of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. "We hear it all the time that kids are receiving different information," Pomponio said, "and sometimes no information at all." In October, two state nonprofit agencies received nearly $2 million in federal grants to fund sex education programs, not based solely on abstinence. "We think the most common-sense approach is to incorporate abstinence and preventive measures, and be realistic about youth behavior," Pomponio said. She said the data from the CDC is a wake-up call. The high teen pregnancy rate puts social and economic burdens on West Virginia communities. In West Virginia, costs associated with teen pregnancy include, $11 million for public health; $14 million for child welfare; $4 million for incarceration and $16 million in lost tax revenue, according to a 2010 study by the Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research. Pomponio said, worse yet, "Young mothers have the worst birth outcomes of any age group." Infants born to teen mothers are more likely to be premature and have a low birth weight, which increases mortality as well as developmental delays and childhood health problems. Teen parents are more likely to drop out of school, remain unmarried, and live in poverty, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Children born to teen parents experience a higher rate of abuse and neglect, and are more likely to enter the welfare system, according to the report. West Virginia is the only state in the nation that allows insurance companies to exclude dependent minors from coverage for contraceptives and maternity care. So called "family planning" is a hot-button issue, opposed by religious groups. "It's a gaping hole, to not only deny them access to family planning and birth control, and then say you're on your own if you get pregnant, too," Pomponio said. The Insurance Fairness Act is currently in the Senate and House of Delegates Banking and Insurance Committees, an act that would expand insurance coverage of contraceptives, prenatal care and childbirth services to dependent minors. The number of pregnant women in West Virginia who smoke is also alarming. In WV the percentage of pregnant women who smoke increased to 31.9% percent in 2005.
The Register Herald
— The potential associated with a boom in industry such as the one some are betting will occur with the Marcellus shale could result in some big changes in the state’s economy. Since the coal industry swept in during the early 1900s, it has played a significant role in the West Virginia economy. The industry not only gave West Virginia miners an income and a job during the day, but entire towns and communities sprang up around the coal mines. According to adapted material from the West Virginia Geological Survey, two major peaks occurred in West Virginia coal mining in 1927 and 1947. “Coal plays a significant role in West Virginia’s economy, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local revenue and providing well-paying jobs to tens of thousands of West Virginians,” reports the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy. “However, the size of the coal economy, while substantial, is not as considerable as previous accounts suggest.” A WVCBP analysis of the coal industry found that since reaching 170 million tons in 1990, annual production peaked at 177.5 million tons in 1997. In fiscal year 2009, $307.3 million in state revenue came from the coal industry via taxes such as the severance tax, corporate net income tax and the business franchise tax. A collaborative study by economists from the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at Marshall University and the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at West Virginia University found that historically, coal in West Virginia has employed more individuals than in any other coal-producing state and has paid a “significant amount of taxes to the state and local governments.” The loss of property tax revenue from coal companies would be fatal to local governments, the report states. “Besides the economic impacts of the coal operators, the coal industry also practices corporate responsibility by continuing to improve and develop local communities in which they operate through educational activities; local sports support; support of local service departments; foundations and charitable organizations; and sponsorship of associations, clubs, councils, festivals and fairs,” the authors of the report wrote. The report by the WVCBP paints a darker picture, warning that with the boom of an industry that depends on a limited resource, the danger of a bust may follow. “As estimated in this report, the industry itself — including its direct and indirect employees — actually costs West Virginia state taxpayers more than it provides,” the report states. “Such an accounting is important, for projected declines in production, should they prove accurate, will further diminish coal’s contribution to state revenues, while the negative impacts resulting from coal industry activity will result in ongoing costs to the state and its citizens.” — E-mail: