Capito, Manchin and McKinley discuss potential of multi-billion dollar energy infrastructure project

CLARKSBURG — Three of West Virginia’s congressional representatives hosted a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Thursday to discuss the potential economic benefits of undertaking a multibillion-dollar energy infrastructure project in the Appalachian region.

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Rep. David McKinley held the conference to talk about the Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study Act of 2017.

The act was introduced in the Senate last week by Capito, Manchin and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. The bill aims to assess the feasibility and advantages of building a subterranean ethane storage and distribution hub to serve West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky.

If passed, the bill would direct the secretaries of energy and commerce, along with other relevant federal agencies, to conduct a feasibility study on establishing the storage and distribution hub.

The study would include an analysis of potential locations based on favorable geology, economic feasibility and benefits, infrastructure and proximity to production sites and potential industrial consumers.

Construction of the hub would allow producers and distributors of natural gas commodities from the region to reap the full benefits of the sale of their products without being reliant on outside infrastructure for storage and distribution, Capito said.

“As we know, energy and manufacturing are two segments that are critical to growth in our state,” she said. “We have the resource, and we want to keep the value of the resource in our region.”

Capito said she was proud to have support from members of both parties for the bill.

“A lot of the time, you hear that things are either Republican or Democrat,” she said. “But this is totally bipartisan.”

Manchin said the project would be a “game changer” for the region.

“We have a tremendous footprint, as far as the ‘Chemical Valley’ in West Virginia, which can be reinvigorated,” he said. “We have the potential to have a whole manufacturing base started with the ethane and propane which can be stored there.

“There’s not a better investment that the state of West Virginia, the state of Pennsylvania, the state of Ohio could make,” Manchin added.

McKinley said the project would help keep the profits from oil and gas sales from leaving the state.

“West Virginia now has become the largest producer of shale gas in the country,” he said. “This would be very instrumental in the potential development that could occur, which would allow us to keep it.”

Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, said his organization had conducted an independent study of the storage and distribution hub’s potential impact.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to further expand the U.S. chemical manufacturing base by capitalizing on the tremendous resources of wet gas,” he said.

According to the study, the storage and distribution hub would cost more than $10 billion to build.

The completed project would result in more than $28 billion of economic output annually, Dooley said. It would also result in the creation of more than 100,000 jobs, paying an average salary of more than $90,000.

“We think this really could be an important contribution in creating significant economic development in a four-state region,” he said. “We have a tremendous economic opportunity which would pay dividends to both consumers and the people that the chemical industry employs.”

By:  Charles Young
Source: The Exponent Telegram