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THE Indiana bat went on the endangered species list in 1967, and 45 years later, there are half as many bats as there were then.

The largest concentration of the endangered Virginia big-eared bat, its population down to less than 400,000, lives in caves in West Virginia.

Their numbers could soon fall even lower. Maryland-based Beech Ridge Energy is seeking a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would

allow the accidental killing of bats at its 67-turbine wind farm in Greenbrier and Nicholas counties

As part of a settlement with environmental groups, the company has already agreed to operate turbines only during daylight hours between April 1 and mid-November, when the bats go into hibernation.

It's illegal under the Endangered Species Act to harm animals on the threatened or endangered list. Yet wind energy companies that received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the name of environmentalism are seeking permission to do just that.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking comments on the company's proposed conservation plan and environmental impact statement through Oct. 23.

West Virginians should not waste the opportunity.

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WHILE the national media has already

declared that this could be the nastiest

presidential campaign since 1800, there are signs that the most effective advertisements may be the mild ones.  

Republican pollster and strategist Frank Luntz had a focus group of mainly 2008 supporters of President Obama review more than a dozen ads for this campaign. The most effective ad was one that featured Obama voters who said they were disappointed in him.

"I can almost see myself in that ad," said one

reviewer. "It seemed the most real."

The ad came from Americans For Prosperity, an independent group. Congress tried to ban independent political speech in the McCain-Feingold campaign "reform" law.

Citizens are taking a higher road than the politicians.

The best way to have more civil campaigns is have more voices in politics. Candidates sometimes go negative, but voters want to talk about issues.

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THE 88-mile West Virginia Turnpike has been

a toll road since it opened on Sept. 2, 1954. The people who use it pay for its construction, maintenance and expansion.

But there is some hope.

The bonds are due to be satisfied in 2019. Legislators will at that point have to decide whether to continue the tolls — a fact alluded to at a recent West Virginia Parkways Authority meeting.

Toll revenue not only pays debt service on the bonds, but for maintenance and improvement of the highway, now part of Interstate 77, and for State

Police protection. If lawmakers drop the tolls on

drivers, most of whom are from out of state, they will have to find money elsewhere in the budget to finance some of these services.

It will be interesting to see what the state does.

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WEST Virginians can point with some pride to the state's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, which survived the recession and the subsequent jobless recovery without going into debt.  

The fund has $154.7 million in the bank, about $100 million more than it had when it reached its low in March 2011.

At the height of the recession, more than 30 states owed the federal government a total of $40 billion.

West Virginia was not on that list.

But as diligent as the state has been in keeping the fund in good order, West Virginia is one of the few states that sometimes subsidizes union goals by

giving striking workers unemployment checks.

It is unfair to give unemployment benefits to

people who voluntarily turn down employment, and ask people who avoid work stoppages to fund them.

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WHILE most West Virginians don't hunt, hunters are quite welcome in the state. West Virginia is a rural state, and its wildness provides wonderful challenges for hunters.

One can see why in an election year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin would make a to-do about re-introducing elk to West Virginia. The state has not had a

native population of elk since 1875, although it now gets tourist elk from Kentucky.

But given that the Mountain State regularly leads the nation in deer-car collisions, is adding the largest species of deer to the state's population really a good idea?


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