We’re sure you’ve noticed them.
Huge 18-wheelers have been seen all over the area, hauling sand of various weights and grades to be loaded onto trains in Fairmont and shipped to various locations around the state where the sand will then be used in the drilling process by companies tapping into the Marcellus shale.
The uptick in traffic is just one result of the increased activity in the state since companies began drilling into the shale formation.
When companies first began looking at the Marcellus shale, we were told there would be hundreds of people put to work in the field. Even more jobs were going to be created as an indirect result of the booming industry. A study funded by the Marcellus Shale Coalition even suggested that drilling in the Marcellus shale could create a quarter million jobs under the current policies of the Obama administration.
The natural gas industry needs roustabouts, engineers, welders, surveyors, people to clear sites and everything in between. Truck drivers are also in demand because of the materials used in the drilling and pipeline process that must be transported. Other jobs come from companies that service new drilling rigs, crews that bring in the materials, caterers who provide meals, and any other aspects of the work.
We can’t help but wonder how many of those jobs have gone to West Virginians.
Sure, we see hotel parking lots full of vehicles. The rooms are rented by people who are working in the industry. Local restaurants and convenience stores are busy, too. We can’t argue the fact that there has been a definite boom for those businesses.
But have you noticed the license plates on the vehicles parked at the hotels? At the restaurants? At the convenience stores? The workers aren’t from West Virginia. They’re from Texas or Oklahoma or some other state from where companies have sent workers to drill into the Marcellus shale.
Even the argument that full hotel rooms at least provide a boost in hotel/motel taxes is short-lived, because a special amendment to that tax says that anyone renting a hotel or motel room for an extended period of time is exempt from the tax after 30 days. So the boost in revenue is as temporary as the workers who have created it.
So where are the jobs for local workers that were promised? Like many in the state, we were optimistic that the industry would generate job growth in the area. Now we aren’t so sure. Whether the industry has provided jobs to West Virginians is still a guessing game.
That’s just one more reason the state needs a way to track the jobs that are being created by increased drilling in the Marcellus shale.
It’s certainly not a new idea. In the original version of a bill passed late last year that governs horizontal drilling in the shale formation, Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, included a provision that called for a study to require tracking and reporting of job creation in the industry. The provision was eliminated by the Tomblin administration during final negotiations of the bill.
That may have been a mistake. If the industry has promised that the jobs would be created, why not track it? There’s no better way to see results than to have records of actual jobs created — and the people who have been hired to fill those jobs.
After all, with special education programs around the state dedicated to training a workforce specifically for this industry, and with company officials claiming they want to hire local workers, shouldn’t there be a way to track progress?
Back to all those trucks in the area. Since the people driving the trucks are from other states, they rely on GPS devices to guide them to the train depot to deliver the supplies they’ve been hauling.
The problem with that? GPS is not always reliable, as one truck driver found out just last week when he attempted to drive down a hill that was much too steep for such a large truck. Local drivers know which streets are better equipped for travel and would not have had that problem.
Perhaps it’s time for lawmakers to look into reinstating the original provision in the bill. West Virginia needs to see that West Virginians are being put to work.
We’re sure you’ve noticed them.
Seizure of AP phone records is an insult to an independent press
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Each and every day should be Mother’s Day
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Teens need co-pilots to navigate social media
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Proposed bill levels playing field for local businesses
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Move past baloney and continue quest to ensure students get meals they need
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‘Relentless efforts’ made by teachers are appreciated
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