The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 1, 2013

Road trip

Let’s hope lawmakers’ D.C. visit gives the right message to EPA

— A group of West Virginia lawmakers is scheduled to make a trip to Washington, D.C. today.

Its mission, at least according to early reports, is to confront the Environmental Protection Agency and protest increasingly stifling regulations that threaten the coal industry.

But since the news of this convoy to our nation’s capital was discovered, we, and others, wonder if that’s not the only item on the traveler’s collective agenda.

While a roster of attendees hasn’t been available, some of the lawmakers not invited to join the group en route to D.C. have made it known that they believe it could be a partisan, politically motivated trip.

Even more unusual, it allegedly doesn’t contain any lawmakers from the southern part of the state, West Virginia’s primary location for its coalfields.

We are all in favor of taking West Virginia’s passionate plea for our economic livelihood directly to Washington, and the EPA offices.

Over the past few years, our state has tried to convey the importance of coal to our region, our economy and our country. To seemingly little avail.

Our hard working West Virginia miners keep the lights on, remember?

Somehow the message doesn’t seem to be getting heard, or getting through.

A potential face-to-face with EPA officials seems in order. At least an effort must be made.

But this effort must not be made into a political “muscle-flexing” competition.

Who gets credit or the limelight should not be the top priority.

Our hope is that the EPA, and whatever officials in Washington happen to be on the other end of this tour, don’t see elephants or donkeys getting off the bus.

Our wish is that they instead see proud, hard-working West Virginia miners and their families represented, the common folks who risk their lives daily to bring a product that creates energy for millions of Americans.

Our state’s workforce isn’t looking for a handout from Washington.

Instead, it is willing to give a hand to help stabilize and build America.

A calloused, perhaps dirty hand. But one that is willing to put in a honest day’s work.

Let’s hope that message gets heard.