West Virginia editorial roundup

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm •  Published: August 5, 2014

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

August 3

The Register-Herald, Bleckley, West Virginia, on black lung's next battle:

It is with great pleasure that last week, after years of effort and decades of suffering for many coal miners, we saw that new rules tightening acceptable levels of coal dust in mines and better monitoring of those levels went into effect.

Those new rules — the first on improving air quality in mines in 40 years — will lower the legal limit on coal dust in mines per mine worker shift to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter, down from 2.

Also, all miners will be equipped with continuous personal dust monitors that will allow miners and coal operators to see in real-time how much dust exposure they are receiving.

The United Mine Workers of America called the new regulations "a good rule."

"While there will still be much more to do in order to get this rule fully implemented, I believe that we will see improvement in mine atmospheres soon, which will be to the miners' benefit," said UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts.

"There will come a time when we will look back to this day as the point where we began to finally wipe out the deadly scourge of coal worker's pneumoconiosis," Roberts added.

And that is where the next battle must be fought — improving health care and funding for miners who have black lung already.

Last week a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found that the backlog of miners filing for black lung benefits is now an average of 429 days, due to federal bureaucracy and the shortage of administrative law judges to hear these cases.




August 5

Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on expanding home rule in state:

Six West Virginia cities made presentations on Monday to the West Virginia Home Rule Board. Over the course of the next few weeks, representatives from 17 more cities will follow.

In all, 23 West Virginia municipalities have applied for the 16 new spots available for home rule in West Virginia.

After a successful pilot home rule program for four cities -- Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling -- beginning in 2007, the 2013 Legislature expanded the home rule program to 20 cities, offering a bit of much needed relief from overbearing state regulation and revenue constraints.

The first experimental home rule program was a big success for the cities that participated:

"We've reduced the amount of bureaucracy and licenses and fees," Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie said last year.

"The beauty of home rule is we can now craft our ordinances to meet the immediate needs of our community," Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said then.

With the initial home rule study program so successful, it remains inexplicable as to why Legislators still insist on only baby steps for the second round -- another five-year experimental program available to those cities fortunate enough to place in the beauty pageant underway in front of the home rule board.

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