Joint ethane storage hub makes sense for W.Va., Ohio

Give U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., credit: They are looking toward the future.

The two are championing a joint venture between Ohio and the Mountain State in developing a new ethane storage hub in the Ohio Valley Region.

The plan makes great sense, as West Virginia and Ohio are both home to a wealth of natural gas in the Marcellus, Utica and Russellville shales.

Ethane is a derivative of natural gas and is used in the plastics and chemical industries. The hub would allow the region to stockpile the chemical to help lure more industry and businesses to the region.

Manchin, alluding to a famous baseball movie, said, “This is a game changer for us. The old ‘field of dreams’? Build it and they shall come?”

He, Capito and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, also a Republican, introduced a bill that would allow for a feasibility study on the establishment of a subterranean ethane storage and distribution hub.

“Making the most of our energy and manufacturing potential is critical to driving economic growth and development in states like West Virginia and across the country,” Capito said in a press release. “The Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study Act will help us figure out the best way to utilize the region’s resources and improve our infrastructure. Not only will this legislation inform future projects and policies, but it will also help attract private dollars to ensure Appalachia remains an important player in America’s energy and manufacturing strategy.”

Manchin concurred.

“I am proud to support the Appalachian Storage Hub because it will help attract significant manufacturing investments to the region, create well-paying jobs and boost the region’s economy while also providing the national security benefits associated with this critical infrastructure,” he said. “Our region’s access to natural gas and natural gas liquids, like ethane and propane, combined with our proximity to manufacturing markets in the Midwest and the East Coast, make West Virginia an ideal location for a storage hub.”

Industry experts say the hub and needed infrastructure could be a $10 billion investment, creating jobs with the potential of long-term industries coming to Ohio and the Mountain State.

This type of forward thinking and bipartisan effort is exactly what this country — and subsequently ours and every state — needs.

Manchin, Capito and Portman deserve credit for developing a sound strategy using their states’ strengths and identifying needs to make it happen.

Their bill deserves bipartisan support from their fellow lawmakers. It’s time to move the Mountain State forward.

By:  John Miller
Source: Exponent Telegram