Response of Luke Winters
WV House of Delegates District 10
- Is reducing human-induced climate change a priority for you? Why?
I personally believe that West Virginia is missing out on a huge opportunity to transform our economy. All too often we limit West Virginia as a coal and natural gas producing state, when instead we should see this state for who we truly are, an energy producing state. West Virginia needs to set a clear plan to reach carbon neutrality no later than 2050. This can be accomplished by modernizing our energy grid with new solar, wind, and hydro-electric technology. I also realize that by reducing our carbon emissions, over time, we will also reduce coal and natural gas jobs. This campaign will always have the West Virginian workers’ best interests at heart. We must create a Jobs Promise for every laid off coal miner and gas worker by investing 180 million per year in local, long term, sustainable, middle-class jobs.
2. What is your position on the much discussed Appalachian Petrochemical Storage Hub?
The Appalachian Petrochemical Storage Hub would devastate West Virginia in the same ways we are already suffering. For far too long we have seen wealth leave West Virginia because we have been lied to by out-of-state land grabbing corporations. As we know, China has promised to invest over $80 billion in this project. I believe China’s sole incentive with this project is profit, not empowering West Virginia. Similar projects in Texas have led to an incredibly high cancer rate. West Virginia has the third highest death rate from cancer in the country and the second leading cause of death in West Virginia is cancer. We do not need to exacerbate an already difficult problem and should realize that protecting our water, land, and health can be done while creating jobs and a robust economy.
3. What is your position on the barge docking station below Marietta that will bring fracking waste to the Mid-Ohio Valley?
Anytime our water source is vulnerable to contamination we must be incredibly cautious. The Mid-Ohio Valley has already seen its fair share of consequences from greedy, out of state, environmentally irresponsible corporations who have polluted our water and endangered our health. An article published at the end of 2019 by the Register Herald says that, “the West Virginia Manufacturers Association claimed that due to the relative obesity of the population in the state, and decreased consumption of water by the population, the risk of cancer and other diseases caused by these chemicals would be decreased. “To be blunt, this logic doesn’t hold water, and we should be doing everything humanly possible to protect our resources.
4. Many corporations have set carbon reduction goals and require access to sustainable energy sources in order for them to locate in a state. Do you think the MOV needs to better position itself to attract such businesses? Explain what you would propose to convince these corporations we are serious about working with them to reduce their carbon footprint.
In an age where many companies are concerned about their environmental footprint, the states that provide access to clean, renewable energies, will properly position themselves for explosive economic growth. In order to convince these companies that West Virginia is serious about working with them to reduce their carbon footprint, we must lead by example and not hopeful promises. West Virginia can repurpose our lands used for mining and frocking and encourage renewable energy facilities such as solar batteries or geothermal projects to be developed in their place. According to the Environmental Energy Study Institute, the energy efficiency sector now employs twice as many workers as all fossil fuel industries combined. If West Virginia invests in renewable energies, we will see an increase in high paying jobs and tech companies flocking to our state.
5. The State of Pennsylvania has an Environmental Rights amendment in its constitution that reads: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment. Our state’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. “Would you approve adding such an amendment to our state constitution?
West Virginia is the Mountain State and we are described as wild and wonderful. Anybody who has lived in or visited West Virginia knows, this is a beautiful state and our people cherish our land, forests, mountains, and rivers. We have seen for far too long, a system that incentivizes corporations to break the law and pay the fine because it is cheaper than protecting our workers and environment. An amendment to our states constitution to protect the West Virginia environment and the property of the people, could only benefit the future generations West Virginia.