WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin questioned officials from the U.S. Department of Energy for an update on the Appalachian Storage Hub on Tuesday.

Manchin, a Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, heard testimony on eleven bipartisan bills before the Committee including one that would require a study by the DOE on the benefits of the hub.

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Joe Manchin

Manchin is the sponsor of the proposed Appalachian Energy for National Security Act, S. 1064, which would require the study and report on the national security benefits of the proposed natural gas liquids storage hub in Appalachia.

During questioning, Manchin said he has been in talks with U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry about his bill and the hub.

“I’ve talked with Secretary Perry and he’s seen the model of a class 5 hurricane coming up the Houston Channel and what it can do to cripple the energy of our country and the dependency we have,” he said.

“So we are looking for a backup. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, with all of the energy we have stored there and the protection of the mountains among everything else – it’s a natural hub.”

WATCH: Manchin questions DOE officials on Storage Hub

Shawn Bennett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Gas, Office of Fossil Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, answered Manchin’s question about President Trump’s Executive Order to examine the Appalachian region as a candidate for economic development in the nation’s petrochemical sector.

“Secretary Perry has been very fond of talking about creating a petrochemical complex storage hub in the region because he recognizes the importance from an economic security standpoint,” Bennett said.

“He has said many times, that one of the things that kept him awake at night was a hurricane coming up the Houston ship channel. And with that, you need to have a diversity of your petrochemical manufacturing. So we are definitely looking at that.”

Manchin also stressed to the entire room just how large of a role that West Virginia plays in the energy industry.

“We are heavily coal industry. We have an ocean of natural gas under us with properties in propane, ethane, and butane. We have been blessed but also we have a lot of wind which we are taking advantage of and solar is coming in,” Manchin said.