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By Rusty Marks
State Journal

Several hundred oil and gas industry executives, workers and supporters met in Charleston on Tuesday, March 21, for a rally on the steps of the state Capitol.

“The work that you do should be celebrated,” said Maribeth Anderson, president of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association. Anderson said the myth that most of the people who work in the state’s oil and gas industry don’t live in the state is just not true, and members in the crowd shouted out their home counties to prove it.

Both state Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, addressed the crowd, telling those in attendance the Legislature was doing what it could to help the industry.

“You’re benefiting the people of the world,” Carmichael said. “We need to do more to help you do your job (in employing West Virginians and helping the state economy). We stand with you to make the changes in the policy and the law to help the industry.”

It’s no secret what condition the state of West Virginia is in. State government faces a shortfall of nearly $500 million for next fiscal year.

West Virginia is the only state in the union that has a smaller population now than it did in 1950, while the number of residents continues to drop.

The unemployment rate for January 2017 was fifth highest in the United States.

The workforce participation rate — that is the number of working-age adults who are working or looking for work — is the lowest in the United States.

Charleston, W.Va. – Nearly 1,000 West Virginia oil and gas workers and advocates gathered on the state Capitol steps Tuesday morning to rally in support of the tens of thousands of hard-working men and women who contribute to the state’s oil and gas economy.

Busloads of workers from across the state joined with industry leaders and a bipartisan coalition of elected officials to raise a collective voice of support for an industry that can fuel the state’s future. They called on lawmakers to act quickly in enacting critical policies that generate more local job creation and that spur needed economic development.

“We hear the message you are relaying to us today,” said West Virginia House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, who joined Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, to praise the work of industry employees.

“This is an important issue not only for West Virginia but for the world,” Carmichael told cheering workers who filled the south steps of the Capitol.