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Refinery Possibilities Discussed

January 29, 2012
By JOSELYN KING - Political Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WARWOOD - The battle to land a cracker plant now is between Ohio and West Virginia, and the Northern Panhandle still benefits if a cracker plant comes to East Ohio, delegates Ryan Ferns and Erikka Storch told Warwood residents Saturday.

"We've got our fingers crossed for this region," he said.

Ferns, a Democrat, and Storch, a Republican, both of Ohio County, jointly hosted a town hall meeting Saturday at the Corpus Christi Elementary School cafeteria in Warwood

Article Photos

Ned Kluth, left, and Dan Vetanze were among those turning out for a town hall meeting Saturday at the Corpus Christi Elementary School cafeteria in Warwood jointly hosted by
Delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio.

Photo by Joselyn King

About 12 residents attended the meeting, and most questions surrounded the idea of a cracker plant coming to West Virginia.

The delegates pointed out that just one piece of legislation has passed the West Virginia Legislature since the regular session began Jan. 9, and that it was important to West Virginia's effort at landing the cracker facility.

House Bill 4086 slashes property taxes for 25 years for any business that invests at least $2 billion toward building a cracker plant in West Virginia.

A cracker facility would convert ethane - one of the natural gas liquids found in "wet" Marcellus and Utica Shale gases - into ethylene, a material heavily used in the plastics industry.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin this week said a cracker plant could bring $2 billion to $3 billion of investment to the state during the construction phase, as well as several thousand jobs.

"There has been very stiff competition for a cracker plant between West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Ferns said. "But with this legislation, I think we have edged out Pennsylvania - and it's now between West Virginia and Ohio."

The residents asked which areas of West Virginia were being considered for a cracker plant.

Storch told them sites in Marshall and Hancock counties are in the running, as well as some in Kanawha and Wood counties.

The possible locations all have easy access to rail, water and interstate transportation, she continued.

Storch noted cracker plants, are "overwhelming facilities" unto themselves, but that development wouldn't stop at just the cracker plant. Ancillary industries would spring up in close proximity to the plant, she added.

"And I'm not sure if you could build all of that on one side of the river," Storch said. "The Northern Panhandle could still benefit if the cracker plant is in this region."

The residents also asked if there had been any joint effort among leaders from the Northern Panhandle and East Ohio to work to attract the cracker plant.

"That's a great point," Ferns said. "But I haven't heard that discussion yet."

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