Vets4Energy leader says federal policies stymie West Virginia's energy development and jobs

As the national program director for Vets4Energy, retired U.S. Army Capt. James McCormick works with veterans across the country to advocate for policies that encourage more domestic energy production to boost America's national security.

In his home state of West Virginia, however, McCormick says a string of federal policies have discouraged that energy production, with a dramatic impact on the Mountaineer State's jobs climate.

“Our state has felt the blow of over-restrictive regulations from DC,” McCormick told TI News Daily. “It’s had a negative impact on areas like McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo, Lincoln, Boone and Logan counties.”

McCormick said such poverty hasn't existed in the state in more than 50 years; and as a combat veteran of two wars, it breaks his heart to see people lacking so much. 

While McCormick says federal regulations have hit the coal industry hard, he said they also have stymied the state's ability to develop its natural gas resources.  Failure to develop those resources have led to missed opportunities for West Virginians — especially veterans — in need of work.

McCormick explained that veterans make up more than 12 percent of the population and their families make up another 22 percent.

“With 34 percent of a state’s population, it's clear that energy plays a major factor in the ability for our veterans to work and support their families,” McCormick said. “Just imagine if (West Virginia) could build the pipelines and infrastructure needed to properly extract that natural gas — that’s 18,000 jobs. In addition to all that, think about our national security position with an increase to energy resources.” 

Veterans are a great fit for jobs in the oil and gas industry, McCormick said, because they possess a broad scope of qualities such as discipline, the ability to work in a structured environment and being punctual -- just to name a few.

McCormick added that veterans are educated to do more than just one job, and possess a sincere passion for doing a job properly, expeditiously and safely.

With so many voters advocating for more offshore energy production the million dollar question is why is there such a deliberate effort to prevent certain types of energy development in the country?

“It's politically motivated in some instances," McCormick said. "In others, it's a lack of education in the actual process that goes into gas and oil development. The oil and gas industry in America has developed the world’s safest and most environmentally friendly processes to extract resources.”

McCormick encourages people to study the science of energy production and educate themselves before “buying into the hype and fear mongering tactics” some activists use.

“Those tactics are not only inaccurate, but can result in policies that put the security of our nation at great risk and force our nation and our allies to continue to import our oil from some countries that don’t share America’s values and interests,” McCormick said.

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