Congressman pushes for carbon capture research

WELLSBURG — U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-Wheeling, made his way throughout Brooke County on Monday.

McKinley said that for the past nine years, when not in session, he visits the counties in his district regularly.

“It’s a matter of finding out what’s going on, and how we can help,” said McKinley.

McKinley said it is important for local voices and concerns to be heard by representatives in Washington.

“A day doesn’t go by when we (in Congress) don’t feel more pressure in Washington to do away with fossil fuels and their contributions to the environment from their emissions,” said McKinley.

McKinley said those in Washington are working on a plan that will take a lot of initiative on research, but one that will really make a serious effort toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal and natural gas.

“If we can be successful in that,” said McKinley, “it will provide a lifeline to our fossil fuel industry all across America. We have to find a way to reduce that carbon.”

McKinley added that he met with representatives of Jupiter Aluminum on Monday morning.

“We’ve been working with Jupiter Aluminum out of Chicago for years,” noted McKinley. “I am really glad they came to Brooke County because we are working with them on carbon capture and some other things.”

According to the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, carbon capture and storage is a technology that can capture up to 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels, preventing the carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

“If we can create technology that reduces the carbon from being emitted into the air in America, then my goal is that we would be able to export that technology and use the patents in other nations, specifically China and India,” said McKinley.

The congressman said China emits twice as much carbon as the United States, and added that since 2005, the U.S. has decreased greenhouse gases by 17 to 20 percent — whereas India and China have increased their emissions by more than 150 percent.

“At the end of the day, even if America totally de-carbonized, with the amount being emitted by China and India alone, the oceans would still rise and the droughts would still occur,” said McKinley. “All that would occur for us would be fundamentally transforming the economy in our counties.”

McKinley said representatives need to find a way with technology to better the environment and at a cost that other nations can afford to use, “so that community members can keep their jobs here.”

In addition to energy, McKinley is interested in the future of health care, and is working on two bills to make prescriptions more affordable.

“With all the studies and information we can get a hold of, the biggest driver in health care is prescription drugs, which makes up more than 20 percent of health care dollars,” said McKinley. “So, what we have tried to do is find a way to lower the cost of drugs.”

McKinley said there are a lot of moving parts in health care, but the cost of prescriptions can be attacked more directly.

“Generic drugs are more affordable than brand-name drugs,” noted McKinley. “Due to the FDA, they should be just as effective as their brand-name.”

Every brand-name drug has a patent good for a certain number of years, after which, generic drug manufacturers should have access to those drugs in order to replicate them.

“Big pharma, from what we found, is not turning patents over to generic manufacturers,” said McKinley. “They are paying a fine, but they have done the numbers and found it’s cheaper to pay the fine and then make more money selling the drug.”

McKinley’s two bills will force brand-name pharmaceuticals to turn the drugs over or face three times the penalties that they do now.

“We have got to find some way to get them to turn the drugs over faster,” said McKinley. “The bills have passed the House and are now in Senate.”

Another health care issue that McKinley hopes to deal with in the future is more research for diseases and viruses.

“Health care research laboratories across the country have actually come up with what appears to be a resolution to sickle cell anemia from years of testing,” said McKinley.

“It is eradicating pain associated with the disease.”

McKinley said people without the disease have been paying higher insurance premiums because there are people in the insurance pool who suffer from sickle cell anemia.

“If we eliminate it, that is less of a cost,” said McKinley.

McKinley added that he is excited for the “interesting challenge” that eliminating high-cost diseases and viruses will provide.

(Linder can be reached at tlinder@heraldstaronline.com)

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