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. Each 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 Democrat candidate John Perdue, 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?
I think, first of all, we have to have strong regulations. We have to have strong controls of this next gold mine that God has blessed us with in this state. I believe we don’t get the cart before the horse. We have to have a long-term plan for the Marcellus shale. After we get the strong controls in place, we then have to plan how we are going to use this revenue, how we are going to plan for the future. I believe there are three things we need to look at. One is we need to realize “big daddy” is no longer here. The money is not going to come down from the federal government for infrastructure in this state, road, sewage, technology, infrastructure — whatever type of infrastructure it might be. I think we need to take part of that Marcellus shale and designate it to the infrastructure of this state so that we can bond and plan how we are going to complete Corridor H, how we are going to complete the express highways, the highways we have under construction. What is our plan for that? What is our long term plan for the future of the state? I think that is a priority that we have to look at for that funding.
Number two is I really believe it is time we take some of that money, set it aside for the taxpayers of this state in a rebate-type mechanism and invest that money long-term and rebate a certain portion back of that natural gas fine for the state.
Number three is the OPEB debt of the state, which is tremendous. We have to take a look at how we designate a revenue source on how we pay that debt down. If we pay that debt down, all West Virginians benefit from that, and I believe if we are able to do that and designate a certain portion of that to pay the debt of the state down it’s just like a house payment. We got to decide when we buy a house, whether we do a 10-year or a 30-year house payment, and we need to do the same thing with the OPEB debt. We have to step up to the plate, we have to swallow the pill and figure out how long we are going to take to pay it off and what is going to be the revenue source to pay that off. I think that’s a possibility we can do that, and we should take a strong look at that.
Those three things are very important for us to do with the Marcellus shale, but I think the most important thing is that we’ve got to make sure that this, is in the state of West Virginia is an investment and that we cross the t’s and dot the i’s in extracting the natural gas in West Virginia, and we don’t end up with a pollution of our natural water systems, our precious water resources.