WASHINGTON — Three West Virginia congressional delegates are pushing for legislation regarding a study of an ethane storage and distribution center in the Appalachians.

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, introduced the Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study Act of 2017 on May 9. Capito is the bill’s main sponsor.

Rep. David McKinley is also in support of the measure and is scheduled to participate in a press call Thursday with Manchin, Capito and American Chemistry Council President and CEO Cal Dooley.

Dooley will discuss the possible economic benefits of petrochemical and plastic manufacturing in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky, according to a Capito release.

The legislation would direct the secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Energy and Commerce to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a hub for the Marcellus, Utica and Rogersville natural gas shale formations.

The Marcellus and Utica shale plays go from southern New York to central West Virginia, and include central and eastern Ohio. The Marcellus shale formation is one mile above the Utica shale play.

The Rogersville shale formation goes from eastern Kentucky to southwestern West Virginia.

According to a release from Capito’s office, a storage hub in the Appalachian Mountains would “add needed redundancy” to the nation’s refining and manufacturing capacity, which is larger based along the Gulf Coast.

The study would regard the best geological and economic location of a possible center.

“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,” Capito said in a joint statement with Manchin and Portman.

“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,” Manchin said. “This bill and resulting study are important steps to realizing the potential this hub would have for our region.”

The study would be completed within two years after the act passed.

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