Repairing W.Va. Roads

Repairing W.Va. Roads

Editor, News-Register:

Recently, Delegate Joe Canestraro rightly took aim at the need to fix the crumbling secondary roads in Marshall County and throughout West Virginia. Delegate Canestraro is proposing pieces of legislation that would increase the oil and gas severance tax nearly 50 percent, institute an annual “user fee” of $1 million on only oil and gas companies for using roadways in West Virginia and dedicate $30 million of current severance tax money to natural gas counties. While we do not think instituting a tax and fee on one user of a road is the solution, we do agree with Delegate Canestraro that more money needs to be put toward fixing our secondary roads.

The oil and natural gas industry has worked closely with the West Virginia Department of Highways for years and will continue to do so to repair and upgrade roads whether it caused the damage or not. The industry already pays up to a $1 million bond which allows DOH to force us to operate under a policy which requires the industry to fund maintenance and repairs on the roads we use and for the wear and tear such use causes. As Delegate Canestraro understands, the damage is not singularly caused by the oil and natural gas industry but is caused by road slips due to our difficult topography, weather and previously deferred maintenance. The roads are used by many within the community — school buses, residents, the oil and gas industry, the coal industry and countless other commercial and industrial businesses.

Every day, oil and gas companies have taken it upon themselves to repair the damage to these roads and have covered the costs. But, an increase on the severance tax and imposition of a user fee on this industry as proposed by Delegate Canestraro would have a crippling effect on the citizens in these counties by running the companies out of the state that provide much needed jobs and economic benefits. Not to mention the fact that these tactics, targeting a single industry, are unfair and unjustified.

Rather than imposing tax increases and fees on the oil and gas industry, the governor has pledged to move funds from the “Roads to Prosperity” bonds to address the condition of these secondary roads and the industry is working with the DOH to help fund and staff these repairs. We applaud the Governor’s decision and appreciate the cooperative spirit of the DOH as we look to resolve this issue. Let’s work together across communities and industries to achieve safer roads for all.

Anne Blankenship

Executive Director

WV Oil & Natural Gas Association

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