Hanshaw reminds nation: West Virginia economy is not irrelevant


For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of serving as Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates. Earlier this week, Illinois Congressman Sean Casten suggested that the West Virginia economy was ‘irrelevant.’ On behalf of nearly 1.8 million West Virginians, I’m here today to respectfully disagree.

Since before the founding of this republic, the mountains and rivers of West Virginia have provided the power of the natural resources necessary to create countless other industries that today form the 21st century economy of the United States of America. The coal and the fossil fuels extracted from the mountains of West Virginia have powered this nation for two centuries. And today, we are an economy in transition. Not just West Virginia, though; nationally, we are an economy moving from heavy industry to technology, innovation, and a research-driven basis of competition globally. West Virginia is a part of that national economy. We are a part of that economy in transition. And we know as our state transitions from a historically fossil-driven economy to one that’s based now upon 21st century technology, green energy and renewable fuels, we are a part of that 21st century economy.

Congressman, we are not irrelevant. We know that as a nation and as a state, we face challenges that the founding fathers of this nation could never have imagined. But we know that if we’re going to surmount those challenges, the only way we will do that as a country is by coming together. By facing challenges the same way that America has always faced those challenges: by uniting, by pooling collective resources, bringing together everything we have and solving the problem. We will not face those challenges by declaring each other to be irrelevant.

So, Congressman, on behalf of 1.8 million West Virginians, I invite you to West Virginia to see the world-class research done by our universities; I invite you to see the manufacturing and distribution hubs located here in West Virginia, less than a day’s drive away from 60 percent of the consuming population here in America; I invite you to see the manufacturing centers up and down the Ohio river, and the shipping channels that provide goods and services to all Americans. I invite you to West Virginia, Congressman, where you will see that the economy of the 1.7 million residents here in our state is not irrelevant.

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