In This Issue:
An America "Built to
by Gary Zuckett,
Tuesday President Obama gave his State of the Union
Address – in reality the kick-off for his reelection campaign. He took
the gloves off and sounded more like the Obama we elected in 2008.
One of the items president Obama called for was passage of the "Buffett
Rule" -- based on the simple idea that middle-class families shouldn't
have to pay higher tax rates than millionaires. Duh!
I know many are disappointed and angry with Obama’s policies during his
first term. On the other hand, Health Care Reform is moving forward and
we will begin covering over one hundred thousand West Virginians when it
completely rolls out in 2014. It’s up to each individual to decide if
they think he deserves another term. The Charleston Gazette thinks so.
The Republican’s pre and post address rebuttals were pathetic, but one
that bites was this commentary by Ralph Nader on Democracy Now, an
alternative news site. On to the 2012 elections!
Gary Zuckett with Co-Sponsors of
Bill to Ban Citizen's United, January 20th
Calling all Candidates!
If you’ve been thinking about running for office this year (and we’d
love to see you do it!) the deadline for filing is tomorrow, Jan. 28th
at midnight. For state-wide or multi-county offices, this would require
either a drive to the Sec. of State’s office in Charleston or a
correctly filled-out form (available on their web page) postmarked in
that day’s mail. For county offices filing is done at the County Clerk’s
We need more real persons (as opposed to corporate hacks) to step up to
the challenge of guiding our ship of state. You could be one of them!
I’ll be curious to see how many incumbents will be running unopposed
this election. Most years it’s at least 25% of them. This is not a sign
of a healthy democracy.
Check out the list of who’s filed or watch the action live on the Sec.
of State’s webcam until midnight Saturday. We’ll say more on who’s
running next week when the dust settles from this last minute rush.
Marcellus Wanna Cracker?
Week three was punctuated by having the first bill passed and signed by
the governor being a massive $25 million/yr. property tax break for any
corporate person who wants to build a natural gas “cracking” plant in
our state. While this cracker is a “value added” process that would use
the “wet” Marcellus gas now being (and hoped to be) produced, there are
many concerns about which process will be used – the old standard
“steam” process or a “catalyst” system that supposedly is less polluting
and energy intensive. This is high-stakes poker and WV has now put all
its cards on the table. See more on “crackers” in Joe’s article inside.
Breakfast for Number Crunchers
The second week of February is packed with progressive public policy
activities here in Charleston. One of these is the annual breakfast
meeting of the WV Center on Budget & Policy (www.wvpolicy.org). The
Center’s Executive Director, Ted Boettner is a former WV-CAG staffer and
we’re proud of his leadership and the team he has assembled to provide
independent analysis and reporting on our WV economy, the state budget
and proposed public policy. I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea. I
will be pouring a strong cup of coffee when I show up at the Charleston
Marriott Tuesday, February 7th from 7:30 – 10:30AM. The conference is
open to all but pre-registration is requested on their web page above.
Hot Coffee, The Movie?
Speaking of a strong cup of coffee, West Virginians United is
co-sponsoring with the WV Association for Justice a showing of the
documentary featuring the famous McDonalds case (now an urban legend)
where an elderly woman supposedly received a multi-million dollar
settlement after spilling a cup on her lap at the drive through. This
film clearly shows the need to keep open access to the courts for those
injured by negligent fictional corporate persons. The filmmaker, Susan
Saladoff, will be at the screening at 7PM on Feb 6th at the Unitarian
Fellowship in Charleston. As I said, lots of progressive activities are
set for February – more to come!
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Qualifying Period for Public Financing Pilot Coming to a Close; One
Candidate Seeks 'Clean Money' Option
by Julie Archer,
This Saturday, January 28,marks the close of the
candidate filing period for the 2012 election. It is also the close of
the qualifying period for State Supreme Court candidates who want to
participate in West Virginia’s public campaign financing pilot project.
The program was established to give candidates the option of running for
office without relying on special interest money and entities whose
cases may later be decided by the Court.
Of the six candidates who have filed to date, only one -- Allen Loughry
-- is seeking public financing. Loughry is currently a Judicial Law
Clerk for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and has served in
that position for the past eight years. He has also served as Senior
Assistant Attorney General under Attorney General Darrell McGraw, a
direct aide to former Governor Gaston Caperton and a special assistant
to former Congressman Harley Staggers, Jr. Loughry also has experience
as a prosecuting attorney and has worked as adjunct professor at the
University of Charleston
Loughry is the author of “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a
Landslide” (see http://www.reformwv.com), which details West Virginia’s
sordid and continuing history of political corruption.
While it is disappointing that more candidates chose not to participate
in the pilot project, in some ways it was not a surprise considering the
ongoing challenges facing the program.
As we wrote in the December edition of the Eye, last year the State
Senate failed to sign off on a bill to provide additional funding for
pilot project, after voting overwhelmingly for passage of the bill to
establish the program in 2010. This possibly led some candidates to
believe that the program was under-funded and discouraged them from
participating. However, what has probably been more damaging to the
program is the fall out from a U.S. Supreme Court decision that led to
an important mechanism in the program being declared unconstitutional by
the Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
This mechanism triggered the release of additional funds to
participating candidates when they were outspent by non-participating
opponents or independent expenditures. Unless a “fix” is approved by the
legislature, without this mechanism, qualifying candidates will only
receive grants of $200,000 in the primary election and $350,000 in the
general, and will not be eligible for or able to raise any additional
funds. Unfortunately, these grants alone may not be enough to run a
viable campaign in what is expected to be a hotly contested race against
well financed opponents, some who have access to personal wealth.
However, there is still time for the legislature to adopt a workable
alternative to the trigger mechanism before the primary election.
Citizens for Clean Elections is working with our legislative allies and
the Secretary of State’s office on a “fix” and is seeking to have the
program extended to the 2016 election cycle with hopes that it will get
a fairer trial run the second time around.
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Insurance Fairness Legislation Will Protect the Health of WV Women
and Children by Maggie
Organizers with the Healthy Youth Coalition say
there is a good deal of support for Insurance Fairness this legislative
session, and are calling on constituents to ask their legislators to
pass Contraceptive and Maternity Coverage for Dependents.
The bills, now in the House (HR 4076) and Senate
(SB 194), would require insurance companies in
West Virginia to cover contraceptive and
prenatal care for teens on their parents’ insurance.
Supporters argue that the legislation will not only improve the
health of young women and babies in
West Virginia, but will save taxpayers money.
Children born to teen mothers are more likely to
suffer from low literacy, neglect, greater health problems, have a
higher risk of incarceration and are 33% more likely to become teen
parents themselves. In the
case that a teen does become pregnant, access to prenatal care is an
essential first step in stopping this cycle.
In 2004 teen childbearing cost West Virginia
taxpayers $23 million dollars, and the 10,979 teen births that occurred
between 2006 and 2009 cost tax payers a total of
WVFREE, Planned Parenthood, WVCAG, the
College of Nurse-Midwives, the UMWA, WV
Coalition Against Domestic Violence, UE Local 170 and the West Virginia
AFL-CIO are among the more than 20 organizations calling on you to
support a healthier West
by urging your legislators to pass SB 194 and HR 4076 to provide
Contraceptive and Maternity Coverage for Dependents.
If you would like to support WVFREE and Planned
Parenthood in their phone banking drive in
Monday, January 30 from 6-8 pm, contact
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to Create Minority Advocate Needs Nudge
by Julie Archer,
Last week we noted that the House of Delegates was
taking swift action on a bill sponsored by Delegate Clif Moore
(D-McDowell) to establish the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority
Affairs. The bill (HB 4015) would create a cabinet-level office designed
to research, advocate for and oversee programs that address issues that
disproportionately affect African-Americans and other minorities. The
bill was the first piece of legislation passed out of the Judiciary
Committee (during the first week of the session), but two weeks later
the bill is still awaiting action by the House Finance Committee.
After three years of watching the bill either stall in committee or have
its funding stripped, things were looking a little brighter for finally
passing it. Then came the editorials in both the Charleston Gazette and
the Daily Mail questioning the need for the bill and it’s progress came
to a halt. Coincidence? No one can say for sure, but it’s disappointing
that the bill, which could help the state address economic and other
disparities that affect thousands of state residents, appears to have
Rick Wilson, director of the American Friends Service Committee WV
Economic Justice Project, detailed some of these disparities and the
importance of addressing them in this op-ed in the Saturday Gazette-Mail
Some action on the companion bill in the Senate (SB5), where the bill
has been assigned to the Committee on Government Organization, may
encourage the House to finish what it started. Please contact Chairman
Senator Herb Snyder at (304) 357-7957 or firstname.lastname@example.org and
ask him to put the bill on his committee’s agenda. To contact other
committee members or your legislators and urge there support visit
http://www.legis.state.wv.us or 877-565-3447.
We hope the legislature doesn’t pass up this opportunity to help
struggling communities and make a difference and people’s lives.
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Cracking Open the Process
by Joe Dickerson, email@example.com
With all the news surrounding the cracker plant I
figured it was worth a look into the technology behind the factory. How
do these plants work? What environmental side effects will there be?
Before we delve into the technical ire of “cracking”, I want to say that
I’ve not made up my mind about these plants. While I’m opposed to the
idea of another chemical plant, the simple fact is that these jobs would
benefit the state. While the actual number of jobs one of these
facilities will generate is debatable, I hope that the majority of these
jobs go to West Virginians.
We’ll begin with: What technology will be used in this plant? Numerous
cracking technologies exist each claiming to be the industry leader. To
be frank the issue is confusing. I’m a liberal arts student, and two
days of research on the subject has left me miles away from being
competent, let alone an expert.
The production of ethylene from ethane is a complex process – “Ethylene
is produced in the petrochemical industry by steam cracking. In this
process, gaseous or light liquid hydrocarbons are heated to 750–950 °C,
inducing numerous free radical reactions followed by immediate quench to
stop these reactions. This process converts large hydrocarbons into
smaller ones and introduces unsaturation. Ethylene is separated from the
resulting complex mixture by repeated compression and distillation. In a
related process used in oil refineries, high molecular weight
hydrocarbons are cracked over zeolite catalysts. Heavier feedstocks,
such as naphtha and gas oils require at least two "quench towers"
downstream of the cracking furnaces to recirculate pyrolysis-derived
gasoline and process water. When cracking a mixture of ethane and
propane, only one water quench tower is required.” – Thank you
Steam cracking is considered an older technology by most experts, so can
often be energy inefficient. The massive amount of energy needed to
generate the heat necessary is staggering. Since ethylene production is
energy intensive, a great deal of effort has been dedicated to
recovering heat from the gas leaving the furnaces. Most of the energy
recovered from the cracked gas is used to make high pressure (1200 psig)
steam. This steam is in turn used to drive the turbines for compressing
cracked gas, the propylene refrigeration compressor, and the ethylene
refrigeration compressor. Once these plants are running they are self
sufficient in their steam production. A plant which produces 1.5 billion
pounds of ethylene per year uses a 45,000 horsepower (34,000 kW) cracked
gas compressor, a 30,000 hp (22,000 kW) propylene compressor, and a
15,000 hp (11,000 kW) ethylene compressor.
Other cracking processes, namely petroleum, have been utilizing a
process which uses fine grains of solid catalyst to stimulate the
chemical change. The catalytic method consumes less energy and releases
less waste gas. Numerous methods are available for cracking plants.
Which one will we get? While no fossil fuel technology is 100% clean, I
hope, as Tomblin’s pushes for the project, he remembers that while West
Virginians want jobs, we want a clean environment as well. It is a
To learn more about the ‘Fight for a Cracker’ check out this story from
the Associated Press
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"One West Virginia, Justice for All" Lobby Day
On February 8th, progressive groups across the state will join together
to make it clear to legislators that now is the time for justice in the
State of West Virginia.
by Maggie Fry,
The event, “One West Virginia, Justice for All,” will encompass a wide
ranging coalition of environmental and social justice organizations, who
say they will join together to ‘occupy’ the capitol rotunda with tables
and a strong lobbying presence from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.
WVFREE, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Fairness WV and WVCAG will be holding
off-site training for supporters at Asbury United Methodist Church from
8:30 – 10:00am. Citizens interested in lobbying are encouraged to
There’s still time for progressive organizations and businesses in the
state to join in and make your voice heard. If you’re interested in
setting up a table or finding out more, contact Denise Poole at (304)
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Fighting for Our Health
by Gary Zuckett,
WV Citizen Action was extremely active in the fight to
pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010. As the second anniversary of its
passage arrives this March, a new book, Fighting for Our Health will be
released documenting the enormous nation-wide grassroots effort it took
to give Congress the spine to pass this broad reform.
WV-CAG was a state leader in Health Care for America Now (HCAN), the
historic campaign to pass health reform. Now, when Republicans are
campaigning to repeal the new law, this new book dramatically tells the
story of our grassroots, coalition campaign that succeeded over the tea
party, Chamber of Commerce, health insurance industry and Republican
Written by HCAN Campaign Manager Richard Kirsch, [Fighting for Our
Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United
States] offers a vivid, first-person account of how health care reform
came to be. The book brings readers inside the biggest and most
consequential issue campaign in American history. Fighting for Our
Health recounts how a reform campaign led by grassroots organizers
played a crucial role in President Obama's signing historic health
reform legislation in March of 2010.
The action takes place inside the Beltway — the White House,
Congressional anterooms, and the streets of DC — and at hundreds of town
meetings, demonstrations, and confrontations, in WV and all over where
we turned out and raised our voices.
Most powerfully, it is the story of the triumph of thousands of people
who had seen loved ones die, families go bankrupt, small businesses
ruined, and futures destroyed by the health insurance system in the
United States. You can order Fighting For Our Health
What people are saying about Richard Kirsch’s new book:
"Finally, a book about intrigue and politics in Washington that has
relevance for Americans outside the beltway, written by someone who is
actually in a position to know what really happened."
— Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont
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Support Sludge Safety Legislation
Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, along with
co-sponsors Linda Longstreth, D-Marion, and Don Perdue, D-Wayne are
strongly pushing Sludge Safety Legislation that would ban the
underground injection of coal waste in the state of West Virginia.
Manypenny told the State Journal "It's obvious that there's heavy metals
in coal, and when you grind it down into an ultra-fine coal, which is
what coal slurry is, with clays and slate and dirt, it can't be
removed." Read the
full article here.
For more information on how to support efforts to pass the legislation
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