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Hyperloop will create great opportunities

It was recently announced that Virgin, the multinational venture capital conglomerate, intends to open a Hyperloop certification facility and testing track on approximately 800 acres that span Tucker and Grant counties. Apart from the obvious economic benefit, this is a heartening sign of good things ahead for the environmental well-being here in the Mountain State.

Nestled in the heart of Appalachia, our state has long been dependent upon the coal and chemical industries, both of which can adversely impact their surroundings with unintended consequences. Mining practices can result in sinkholes, erosion, loss of biodiversity, and the contamination of both soil and water. The toll it takes on the human lives in the areas surrounding mines is also significant. Coal counties suffer from high rates of lung, kidney, and heart disease, as well as certain kinds of cancer, obesity, smoking, diabetes, and opioid abuse.

Beyond these costs, West Virginia has seen a staggering decline in the coal industry — and with it, the well-paying jobs it once brought. Coal production is at an all-time low and mines continue to close at an alarming rate. At one time, as many as 100,000 West Virginians were employed in coal mines; now that number is fewer than 20,000 and the pay significantly less.

As such, West Virginia is in need of economic development from industries that can offer career longevity and are here to stay. The Virgin Hyperloop project will bring a much-needed economic boost for the state, creating thousands of new jobs across the construction, manufacturing, operations, and high-tech sectors. And, it’s being built on a former mining site — significantly reducing its environmental footprint.

The state has seen as advent of such corporations as of late, with a noticeable rise in corporate commitments to community partnership and environmental stewardship. This is thanks, in no small part, to our state’s leaders.

The Hyperloop project has received broad bipartisan support, with particular enthusiasm from Sen. Joe Manchin III. I extend my sincere gratitude to the Senator for being a champion of the state of West Virginia and for showing its value to competitive, sustainable business ventures.

I hope to see this trend continue for the benefit of all West Virginians.

Delegate Sammi Brown

Charles Town

West Virginia District 65

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