Congressional Candidate Richard Ojeda Addresses Pocahontas County Dems and Activists

MARLINTON W.Va. – W.Va. state Sen. Richard Ojeda told Democratic voters and local activists in Pocahontas County on Saturday that they needed to be vocal about their concerns regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline project.

“These decisions should be left up to the people that this will affect,” the senator told the crowd. He recounted a recent conversation between himself and a lobbyist in Charleston that lobbied for forced pooling. “They asked what they could do to change my mind. I told them they could get out of my office.”

Ojeda said that no company should be able to just take someone’s land. He said that the ultimate decision for the pipeline should be left up to the individual counties and the people to decide if they want it. Ojeda spoke about gas wells in Logan County creating short term jobs but only a minimal amount of long term jobs. The result in Logan County is millions of dollars worth of extraction with minimal amounts of money going back into the local communities.

“I know that everyone wants more jobs in West Virginia,” said Ojeda. “But only two interim sessions ago, the representatives of the gas industry admitted that the jobs they would be providing are short term jobs. Do we not deserve better than short term jobs?”

Ojeda said the least that could happen is that the state could raise the severance tax to accommodate the lack of long term jobs. “I’ve been griping about the severance tax for quite some time. But the minute you talk about putting more money back into our roads, our schools, our teachers or our state employees, they threaten to lay off workers and shut down. If we even think about cutting into the profits of these millionaires and billionaires to better our people, they threaten to take the food off of our families’ tables.”

Ojeda also supported the idea of bringing new forms of energy to rural areas like Pocahontas County. “I’m from Logan County and in Logan County, coal mining is our lifeline and I want my miners working. There is absolutely still a place for coal, especially the metallurgical coal that we mine in southern West Virginia. That coal will produce the steel that it takes to fix our roads, bridges and infrastructure but there are places in West Virginia where the people are looking for other resources. We have the best welders, the best mechanics and the best fabricators”.

The vocational schools in West Virginia create the best, added Ojeda. “We could absolutely build solar panels. We need politicians who are willing to actually reach out to the companies looking for a workforce in this field and bring them to Pocahontas County,” Ojeda said. And then he called for American companies that have moved overseas to relocate to rural communities as the low cost of living and high rate of unemployment would be an incentive for business.

He laid out an idea that politicians in Washington should always be held accountable; where they are not focused on reelection but on doing their jobs and where fundraising is not taking up 65% of their time in office; and where every politician is accessible to the people with the primary goal of bettering the lives of the people in their state.

To view a clip of the Senator’s speech, click here.