West Virginia Congress Members Support Ethane Hub

WHEELING — West Virginia’s congressional delegation is showing a unified front in pushing for an ethane storage hub for central Appalachia, and they hope state leaders in Ohio and Pennsylvania join them.

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., were joined Thursday by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and American Chemistry Council President Cal Dooley for a news conference to tout the economic benefits of placing the hub near oil and gas reserves in Appalachia rather than near chemical industry operations on the Gulf Coast.

Manchin and Moore, along with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, last week introduced the Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study Act of 2017. The measure calls for studying the feasibility and potential benefits of establishing a subterranean ethane storage and distribution hub in central Appalachia.

McKinley announced Thursday he would introduce companion legislation in the House today.

“As we all know, energy and manufacturing are two segments that are critical to growth in the state,” Capito said. “We have the resources, with the Marcellus, the Utica and the Rogersville shale plays in our area. For West Virginians, we want to keep the value of the resource in our regions … and we want to start revitalizing our chemical industry and our plastics industry in and around our Marcelus Shale.”

She added it’s important for West Virginia to see the state’s resources processed in the state, and not piped to Florida, Texas or other areas.

Manchin said the possibility of an ethane storage hub in West Virginia “could be a game-changer for the state.”

“We have a tremendous footprint as far as a chemical valley in West Virginia that can be reinvigorated … ,” he said. “And we have three states (West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania) working together, crossing energy borders — and basically following the energy flow.”

He encouraged the legislatures in the three states to band together to invest money in the storage hub project.

“The geologics are being done now,” Manchin said. “Once we get the geologics back, this should be a no-brainer. I’m hoping all three legislatures get involved. This is a tremendous opportunity for the state of West Virginia to produce jobs for the future, and a great return on investment for the people of West Virginia.”

McKinley said similar legislation to establish and ethane storage hub in West Virginia has passed the House three times, but in the past hasn’t been taken up by the Senate.

“I think there is strong support for this concept,” he said. “The idea of having the storage up in the Northeast — as compared to the Gulf Coast — is very instrumental so we can be able to keep it. West Virginia is the biggest producer of shale gas in the country. East of the Mississippi, we’re one of the biggest producers of gas overall.”

Dooley it would take about $10 billion to create the ethane storage hub and the related pipeline. He estimates this would then result in about $32 billion in private investment, and in about $28 billion in annual output.

There would also be about 100,000 jobs created — including temporary construction jobs — according to Dooley. He said the average pay in the chemical industry is about $90,000 annually.

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