BECKLEY — Editor’s Note: Through May 4, The Register-Herald will publish a daily story featuring in-depth interviews we conducted with candidates seeking the office of governor of West Virginia. All of the 16 people who filed were issued an invitation to appear before our editorial board, and 14 of those came to Beckley to meet with us and discuss some of the key issues in West Virginia. The stories will appear in the order in which the candidates were interviewed. Today’s story focuses on Democratic candidate Natalie Tennant of Charleston.
1 — It certainly appears that Marcellus shale regulation will remain a major topic of interest for the next several years. What are the key features that you see need to be included in West Virginia law in order to best serve the interests of all the parties involved?
One, I first want to say that I’m frustrated, as are many West Virginians, that it was addressed but not a solution found in the legislative session. Because, as you all know, it was the major topic going into it. So I’m disappointed, and I’m frustrated it wasn’t addressed. And what we need to do with Marcellus shale... Yes, I understand the opportunity that we have with it, the economic boom that we have. Folks talk about it being a game changer and a gold mine underneath West Virginia. So I certainly understand that. But what we need to be able to do is have responsible development. And what I mean by responsible development, if there’s more regulations that need to be in play in terms of serving the communities and making sure the communities are strong in which you’re having the drilling, that the environment is addressed, the water is kept safe and the roads are in good shape as they were when the drilling started. That needs to be addressed and in respect to the surface owners, the landowners as well. So that has to be part of it. The other aspect of how we use Marcellus shale to diversify what we’re going to continue to do in West Virginia comes with innovation 20/20 fund I have in place and want to see some of that money from the severance tax be used for technology and math education to building up our communities in which they were drilled and for really diversifying our economy. Because I believe you have these funds now, and we have revenue from it now. When we talk about research and development, that’s certainly what it is. You’re researching and developing what may be taking place. The revenue might not be coming so quickly from technology, but in four or five years, we’ll see the rewards of that. So that’s why we’re able to invest now from what we use with Marcellus from research and development, hence, having a diverse economy. And with all of that, and this will be the theme that you’ll see out of this coming from me, what you’ve seen in the secretary of state’s office and what you’ll see under a Tennant administration, is innovation and accountability. And with all that, when we show and we ask for revenue to go into this specific area, this fund, you’re going to see how it’s used, because I will put that on the Internet for folks to be able to see how their tax dollars are being used and how their state is being developed. Because as governor, I won’t let West Virginians and I won’t let the state of West Virginia be taken advantage of.