In Case You Missed It: McKinley and Tonko Travel West Virginia District One
Washington, May 25, 2021
Washington, D.C. – This past weekend, U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va) traveled with Rep. Paul Tonko on a tour of West Virginia District One as part of the American Congressional Exchange (ACE) sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).
The trip included stops at West Virginia University, Shinnston, and continued to Westlake Chemical, Blue Racer Midstream, and Covestro in Natrium, and then traveled into the Northern Panhandle.
“West Virginia is part of the backbone that helps power this great nation and has helped make America what it is today. As we look to the future, it is vital to our families, our schools, and our economy that Congress doesn’t overlook Appalachia,” McKinley said. “It was a pleasure in showing Paul Tonko to the 1st District and I am hopeful we can continue to work together to develop bipartisan solutions to address the challenges facing West Virginia and the entire country.”
“There could not have been a more positive way to kick off the 2021 American Congressional Exchange program than Rep. Tonko’s visit with Rep. McKinley in West Virginia’s 1st congressional district, which demonstrated once again how vital bipartisanship is for America,” said John Richter, director of BPC’s Congress Project. “These leaders understand that when we truly listen to one another, literally see where each other comes from, and seek to transcend differences, there are no bounds to what we can accomplish. I look forward to building on the conversations and ideas that can result in meaningful legislation to better our country.”
Below are excerpts from the news articles:
Wheeling Intelligencer: Rep. David McKinley Tours District With Democratic Colleague From New York - U.S. Reps. David B. McKinley and Paul Tonko have opposing ideas when it comes to dealing with climate change policy — but that doesn’t mean they can’t spend a day riding in a car and formulating possible solutions.
Their day began in Morgantown at West Virginia University, continued to Shinnston, then to Natrium to Westlake Chemical, Blue Racer Midstream, and Covestro.
There were stops at AEP’s Mitchell Power Plant, and the closed Kammer Power Plant. Next was a tour of the CertainTeed gypsum manufacturing plant, followed by a stop at Center Market in Wheeling.
The pair said they have worked together in Washington, and share a mutual interest in historic preservation. They are co-chairs of the House Historic Preservation Caucus.
There is perhaps no debate more polarizing than climate change, said Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet. Grumet moderated a discussion between McKinley and Tonko on the stage of the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling that concluded their day on Friday.
The White House has put out a report that has “untenable solutions” to the climate change issue, according to Grumet. It suggests eliminating fossil fuels altogether, and this is “unrealistic,” he said.
Grumet asked the House members their thoughts on what could be done to reach a more reasonable solution.
McKinley said extremists on the issue have been providing information to President Joe Biden on the issue, and “more reasonable Democrats” like Tonko need to approach him.
“People in leadership like Paul Tonko — he is close to Democratic leadership — have to convince him the artificial deadline (to eliminate all fossil fuel electric plants) of 2035 is probably unrealistic,” McKinley said. “Give us a little more time because we are making that move.”
WV News: Reps. David McKinley, New York's Paul Tonko tour West Virginia University, surrounding areas, as part of Bipartisan Policy Center congressional exchange trip- Bipartisan Policy’s American Congressional Exchange has a three-pronged mission: To get the members of Congress to listen to each other, learn what they have in common, and use that shared knowledge to better serve the country.
Tonko added that their trip, which included a stop at West Virginia University, and continues through Grafton, Shinnston, and the Northern Panhandle, is “a chance for me to get to hear from the people — front lines, what works, what doesn’t, what their needs are, their strengths are.”
McKinley said he was excited for Tonko to see what the Mountain State had to offer.
“To understand what motivates us what we do in Washington, why we represent our district the way we are, Paul needs to come to my district and I need to go to his,” McKinley said. “We want to start here at the university, to see what are our opportunities to diversify our economy.”
Part of the trip included a tour of the WVU Engineering Innovation Hub, located at the Evansdale campus.
“We looked at the work they’re doing in electronics, we talked about how we might be able to get rare earths from the mine drainage and how that might work out,” McKinley said. “We’re so dependent on China and other nations to do that, and we’re finding out that this is being done here at WVU. That’s a very positive step.”
Tonko said that seeing the hope that can come with research is an incredible asset.
“Working on science-based, evidence-based research is very important,” Tonko said. “Our universities embrace tremendous vision, and that vision comes with a lot of solutions that they apply. That applied research is important.”
A healthy university system, Tonko said, is invaluable.
“As we develop policy, you need to rely on what the people are saying — you need to listen well, and then to tap into academia,” Tonko said. “It is an underutilized strength of our nation — the intellectual capacity will address some of the most complex issues of our time.”
The ultimate focus, both Tonko and McKinley agree, is on job creation and retention.
The Herald Star: Congressmen from separate states tour area - As chairman of the energy and commerce subcommittee on environment and climate change, he has introduced legislation supporting the use of cleaner energy sources, such as electric, solar and wind in domestic industries to reduce carbon emissions linked to global warming.
But McKinley, who is ranking member of the subcommittee on energy and climate change, said Saturday experts have confirmed such sources will be more costly for industries, which should be given more time to reduce emissions.
He noted current plans call for emissions to be reduced by 80 percent by 2030, which he sees as unworkable at a time when power plants still rely largely on fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil.
McKinley said with time, the plants could be downsized to reduce their emissions while adapting to other energy sources.
“I think West Virginia is in transition. We needed to diversify our economy a long time ago. But now we have a chance to reinvent ourselves,” he said, adding one avenue is the production of useful chemical compounds from natural gas.
McKinley said both he and Tonko are engineers and as such, appreciate the need for sound planning based on reliable information.
WTRF: Congressmen join together to establish bipartisan relationship to better the future of West Virginia - Congressman Tonko is a Democrat representing Albany, New York, and came to West Virginia to experience it in a bipartisan manner. Today’s goal was for both leaders to establish a respective relationship, and for Representative Tonko to hear from West Virginians firsthand about their strengths, assets, worry, and vision.
They’re hoping the Government can join together to come to a more common ground to help everyone. The main focus between the two is fossil fuels, as they are both leaders for their respective parties in the subcommittee for climate change.
“Setting artificial deadlines like 20-30 and 20-35.. I can understand it. It’s politically driven, but let’s slow down now that you’ve seen it. You’ve talked to the coal miners in Shinnston, West Virginia. You talked to the railroad people down in Grafton, West Virginia. The impact that could have if we don’t have fossil fuels is part of it, because it’s not just coal,” said Rep. McKinley.
“There's enough poor communication, and acrimony, and forces that divide us as representatives. So, to come to a common table of dialogue, and conversation and listening, is an important aspect to strengthening the opportunity to get things done,” said Rep. Tonko.
Mckinley is hoping Congressman Tonko will take the things he’s learned about the Mountain State back to congress and help them to understand the impact taking fossil fuels away from us so quickly would do to the state.
WTOV: McKinley welcomes counterpart to Wheeling as part of exchange program - The two congressman started at West Virginia University before making stops in Grafton and Shinnston, then finishing in Wheeling.
Tonko is the chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. So, an important part of the trip for McKinley was a stop made at a coal mine in Shinnston, as President Joe Biden continues to push his clean energy agenda.
Looking at people's eyes, you can see their concern,” McKinley said. “The coal miners in Shinnston are concerned for their families. There is no alternative for them. If these mines shut down, or the power plants shut down, there's no future for them.
McKinley and Tonko serve together on the House Committee for Energy and Commerce. So Tonko understands why McKinley is fighting to keep people like miners employed.
“I think it's always good to hear from the frontline. To me, this is a people's science. And to hear their expressions of their concerns, their ears, their vision, just stays with you.”
And McKinley believes this tour was an eyeopener for his Democratic counterpart.
“I wanted other people to recognize yes, you can do something but what are the consequences of doing it?” McKinley said. “So, it was a very effective tour I think.”
In the coming weeks, McKinley will make his way to New York with Tonko.