From J. Scott Beaver
To The Editor,
I believe Appalachia in general, W.Va. specifically, have not learned history lessons well. We supplied the energy to support the industrial revolution but still remain some of the poorest states in the nation. With the natural gas boom, I see us making the same mistakes. We are being taken advantage of by large corporations and not receiving as much as we should for our valuable resources. We are not putting the proper legislation in place to ensure our future. I have a few very simple ideas I believe could help us in the long run.
1) Tax resources as they are removed from the ground: I’m sure this is being done, but the rates may need to be looked at.
2) Tax the resources as they leave the state.
I know this gets into the area of interstate commerce and may need to be done as a severance tax, but this is one of the most important parts of the plan. This tax needs to be set as high of a rate as the market can stand; due to the big drop in natural gas prices, this leaves room to work with.
This tax rate needs to be high enough for it to be attractive to businesses to build their industries here to avoid the tax. We need to also make it more attractive to these businesses by taxing their value-added products at a lesser rate, making them see a big benefit in building here. The rest of Appalachia needs to implement a similar plan.
3) Tax these resources at an even higher rate if they are to leave the country.
I know, Big Oil will fight this, but as these resources become rarer, the price will only increase. The Middle Eastern countries formed OPEC to help them control prices. Maybe the oil and gas producing states should create their own form. These are our resources; we should get them at the best price.
This is when we would learn where the interests of our elected officials really lie. Our elected officials are in office to back the ideals of most people, not those with the money.
As I look around this state I love and call home, I see huge pipelines being put in place to take our valuable resources out here. Big business is here to take advantage of us again. Have we learned our lessons from the past, or are we destined to still be the poorest region in America?
J. Scott Beaver