PARSONS – Rep. David McKinley spent the better part of Monday in Parsons, meeting with officials and touring the newly-opened Veterans Clinic and inspecting the hole in the Pulp Mill Bottom diversion dike.
McKinley listened to local concerns during a lunch meeting at Little Andi’s Restaurant in Parsons with city and county officials and took time to address concerns affecting the entire state.
City Council member Tim Auvil told McKinley a major problem in the area is access to health care. There is neither hospital nor facility offering 24-hour emergency medical care in Tucker County.
“Prior to the shut-down of the 24 hour care in the city, we had one person who would have bled to death before she would have gotten to the hospital, 22 miles away,” Auvil said. “We have life flights that travel to Morgantown all the time, but one day someone may not get there on time.”
After touring the Pulp Mill Bottom diversion dike, McKinley said he would be checking to see what help would be available to assist with fixing the damage to the wall.
Auvil also told McKinley that during Superstorm Sandy, help was delayed because the PSD could not give out names of address of people needing assistance during power outages.
“We had water and MREs brought into the county and had no access to the list of those without power,” Auvil said. “This kind of information should be allowed to be released during an emergency so you know where they are at and how to get the supplies to them. It could be voluntary.”
Parsons City Administrator/Treasurer Jason Myers said the list is imperative.
“We just need a list of their names and addresses,” Myers said. “We don’t care how much they owe the power company or what their account numbers are, we just want to be able to help them.”
McKinley offered advice about winning the war on coal.
“I think Congress really needs to be more empathetic,” McKinley said. “I think they need to understand the impact the war on coal is having with jobs. It’s one thing if you are dealing with it superficial or at 30,000 feet – but come down where you and I live. This is threatening jobs.”
McKinley said the EPA says they do not have the responsibility to protect jobs – just the environment and the health and safety of families in America.
“We want them to become more involved empathetically about what affect this is having on jobs,” McKinley said. “Fly ash is an unavoidable by-product of burning coal and the EPA wanted to treat it as a hazardous material. A hazardous material to me is asbestos. So we are saying fly ash is avoidable every time you burn coal. The question is, what do you do with it?”
McKinley said the EPA was not willing to recycle fly ash – they just wanted to ban it as a hazardous material.
“We raised our voices loudly about fly ash and got a bill passed saying it was not a hazardous material,” McKinley said. “We went back to the EPAs own studies saying fly ash was not hazardous.”
McKinley said in that instance, he had people all over the country supporting the legislation.
“We need to get people engaged and have them let officials know the legislation is killing jobs,” McKinley said. “If we stop burning coal everywhere in the United States, the CO2 around the world would be reduced by two-tenths of one percent. So they want us to put 100,000 jobs at stake to reduce emissions by two-tenths of one percent.”