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From Keith Hughes

November 9, 2011
Wetzel Chronicle

There is currently quite a discrepancy in Wetzel County. While Wetzel County was once again ranked with the highest unemployment rate in the state, it also has the highest rate of natural gas drilling activity in the region. How can a county that's booming with Marcellus Shale natural gas development still have record high unemployment?

The simple answer is imported workers. The natural gas and oil industries are well known for importing workers to do the jobs associated with gas and oil production.

Wetzel County citizens are watching the natural gas industry flourish in their own backyards, while RVs and trucks with license plates from Texas, Louisiana, and other far flung states roll into our community to take the jobs local workers can and should be doing.

In a region that has both high unemployment as well as a trained, professional workforce of men and women ready and anxious to work, there is absolutely no reason to import large numbers of out-of-state workers.

Dominion Resources is one of the biggest offenders. They are big on publicizing their commitment to local communities and spread a lot of token donations around to local organizations. But right up Route 2 in Marshall County Dominion is building a $500 million plant with a Texas construction company.

Big public relations campaigns and a few donations aren't going to help Wetzel County's biggest problem-unemployment. If the energy companies are truly committed to contributing to our local communities, whose natural resources mean billions to their bottom line, they need to hire locally. Local workers mean paychecks stay in their communities and in turn help everyone in the local economy flourish. Without investing in local workers, the only ones who will flourish from Marcellus Shale are big energy and their investors.


Keith Hughes

Cameron, W.Va.



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