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McKinley speaks on coal, baseball, Trump impeachment

Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., spoke Monday to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, commenting on topics ranging from the fossil fuel industry to minor league baseball to the state of Washington, D.C., during the recent impeachment hearings. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., said attempts to place regulations on the fossil fuel industry put the United States in a difficult situation while destroying small communities.

McKinley’s comments came during an interview Monday with the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. McKinley spoke on topics ranging from the fossil fuel industry to minor league baseball to the state of Washington, D.C., during the recent impeachment hearings.

McKinley said while environmental groups have worked to place more strict limits on the use of fossil fuels in the United States, oversees China and India are creating pollution at an alarming rate.

“The rest of the world is not following our lead,” he said.

McKinley also said little thought has been given to communities which are driven by fossil fuels, such as coal mining towns and those with coal-burning power plants.

“Let’s talk about what you’re doing to these communities. It is fundamentally wrong,” he said. “Thinking we can shut down the industry in these towns, there is no other industry. You can’t do this to the people.”

McKinley said that also applies to the gas industry, which has seen a surge in West Virginia but still does not burn as clean as critics would like.

“The first line of defense was coal, and they’ve breached the wall,” he said. “Now they are going after gas.”

McKinley said the world is relying on the U.S. to develop cleaner-burning technologies for fossil fuels, but if damage continues to be done to the fossil fuel industry, that research will fall by the wayside.

“If we ban fossil fuel in America, are we going to continue to do research on something we’re not using?” he said. “If we’re going to throw a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry, we’ve got to find a way to prove we can burn it cleaner.”

McKinley also commented on a recent move by Major League Baseball to eliminate many minor league teams. West Virginia has four minor league teams, and while legislators have not yet gotten directly involved in the debate, they are watching the situation closely.

“We’re going to have to see where they are going,” he said. “We have to be careful about interfering in the private sector. But they are moving so quick, and not everyone seems to be onboard with the plan. We want to say ‘be sure you want to do it before you do it.'”

McKinley said if Major League Baseball moves forward with cutting minor league teams, legislators might have to begin re-evaluating some of the special considerations given to the league, areas such as salaries and minimum wage.

“I’m not backing off this,” McKinley said. “This is not right.”

Among other areas discussed by McKinley:

∫ House impeachment hearings have been “all-consuming” among elected officials in Washington, D.C., the past two weeks, but that doesn’t seem to go beyond the Capitol’s borders.

“You get outside (of Washington, D.C.) and it’s not what people are talking about. It’s still the economy,” McKinley said.

McKinley said he believes House Democrats have the votes to impeach President Donald Trump, but doubts the impeachment would pass the GOP-controlled Senate. McKinley also said he believes the impeachment is more about Democrats securing control over the Senate and executive branch.

“It’s not so much a pursuit of justice, it is a pursuit of power,” he said. “This has always been about the consolidation of power.”

∫ McKinley said he agrees with West Virginia Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch’s optimism concerning a possible cracker plant in West Virginia. At a meeting last week in Fairplain, Gaunch said the next 10 years should show growth in the Ohio River valley, in part because of automotive, petrochemical and energy industries.

Locally officials have worked to secure a cracker plant, but several plans have fallen through or been put on hold. McKinley said he fully expects to see a plant built in the coming years. The timeline, however, and the placement of such a plant are still up in the air, McKinley said.

“There will be one in West Virginia,” he said.

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