CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — On this week’s episode on Inside West Virginia Politics, host and Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis and our guests discuss various topics in the Mountain State such as a new facility that addresses opioid addiction recovery, three West Virginia power plants that are getting necessary upgrades and one woman who shares her story of escaping Cuba in the 1960s.
A new recovery center to help with opioid addiction
In Segment 1, Rep. Carol Miller, Congresswoman from WV’s 3rd District, discusses West Virginia’s opioid problem. Earlier this week, Miller toured the New Lotus Recovery Facility in Boone County. She says there may be more clinics to open in West Virginia.
“Recovery is such an important part of getting over addiction, period,” said Miller. “Because you have rehab and recovery. The tough physical part of rehab, then you have to go into the multilayer part of recovery, which goes with you.”
Miller also discusses babies born addicted to drugs, how schools react to those children affected years later, and how that affects communities.
West Virginia power plants can continue to operate
In Segment 2, Chris Hamilton, President of the WV Coal Association, talks about the major ruling last week by the West Virginia Public Service Commission that essentially allows three power plants to continue operation in the Mountain State.
Hamilton says the Mountaineer, the Mitchel and the John Amos Plants will be approved for all environmental upgrades and continue operating.
Hamilton says an economic study was commissioned through our states’ lead economist last year. In conjunction with the coal operations that provide the base fuel supply, he said these coal-fired plants are responsible for upwards of $14 billion throughout our state and local economies.
“The state’s economist said that’s about $1 out of every $6 generated in this decision and generated in the local and regional communities is just phenomenal,” said Hamilton. “There’s no replacement for these current jobs and all the payroll dollars that are generated and all the long-term security for all these plant coal miners dependent often on these coal-fired electric generators here in the state of West Virginia.”
Electric bills expected to increase due to plant upgrades
In Segment 3, Emmett Pepper, Environmentalist Attorney, shares his opposition to the Public Service Commission’s decision to extend the lives of three West Virginia coal-fired power plants. “I don’t think you have to be an environmentalist to know this is a bad deal for rate-payers,” said Pepper.
According to Pepper, The Public Service Commission does not have the authority to say that these expensive upgrades are going through West Virginia ratepayers alone. Kentucky Power also uses the Mitchell Power Plant, but they’ve said they will not have Kentucky rate-payers pay for the upgrades needed at that plant.
“We’ve had a 150% increase over the past 15 years in our electric bills. Our bills are high here,” said Pepper. “Our bills are going up here and we can probably expect to see more of that, or we may see more of that because it seems like there are people in power in this state that are looking to ask us as rate-payers, to pay, apparently unlimited amounts of money.”
Congressman Alex Mooney’s mother shares her story of escaping Cuba
In Segment 4, Lala Suarez-Mooney, the mother of Congressman Alex Mooney, discusses the latest on the unrest and protests that have been happening in Cuba in the last month. Mooney is a native of Cuba who fled Castro in the early 1960s and came to the United States.
“Well, I really wish there was some way we could help them. It’s a desperate situation,” said Suarez-Mooney. “Some of the comments say to the government you’re killing us with hunger, people are just desperate, the economic situation is desperate. Socialism and communism doesn’t work.”
Suarez-Mooney also shares the story of when she was arrested in Cuba following the failed Bay of Pigs demonstration. She shares the story of her escape, saying, “It was desperate in one day, Fidel Castro picked up 100,000 prisoners, said everybody goes to prison. And once in prison, they abuse us. For example, one day, they wanted to move some prisoners, they brought fire trucks, and firemen aimed the water hose at everybody, including one woman who was pregnant, and they aimed it at her stomach. They are cruel, and they don’t hesitate to use any means to keep people scared and bound. I was able to get out, but one of my uncles died in prison, and another fulfilled a 7-year sentence.”
Suarez-Mooney has written a book about her experience titled “Leaving Cuba: One Family’s Journey to America.”