Industry lauds study showing support for natural gas among West Virginians

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Most West Virginians support underground natural gas pipeline construction to move gas from the Mountain State to other areas, according to a recent statewide survey conducted on behalf of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.

Corky DeMarco, WVONGA executive director, said such pipeline projects are important for the state’s economic future, drawing on the natural resources that, in his view, West Virginia is “blessed” to have.

“It’s our duty to use them to better our state and our nation and, possibly, even have some influence in the world as it relates to energy eventually,” he said.

According to the poll, conducted by Mark Blankenship Enterprises, 76 percent of West Virginians are in favor of building pipelines to transport natural gas to places where it can be used and sold.

There are currently six proposed interstate natural gas pipelines involving West Virginia in some state of review or approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

DeMarco told MetroNews those projects need to get moving.

“The total capital investment on the West Virginia portions of those pipelines is $5.7 billion and the estimated new employees it’ll take to build out those lines, in West Virginia only, is 18,000 new employees,” he said.

The MBE poll is the latest in a series the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association along with Energize West Virginia have conducted periodically to understand the perceptions and opinions of West Virginia’s registered voters on energy-related issues.

DeMarco said the questions were not weighted one way or another.

The survey, which included interviews of 500 registered voters in West Virginia, was conducted during a three day period beginning on Jan. 25, 2016 and has a margin of error of +/-4.4 percent.

Of those questioned, 82 percent said they believe growing the natural gas industry in West Virginia is important to creating more jobs and providing more tax revenue to the state for services like schools and roads.

Even though 69 percent said West Virginia was heading in the wrong direction, 93 percent of respondents indicated the natural gas industry will be important to West Virginia’s economy and job market ten years from now.

In the survey, 55 percent supported hydraulic fracturing or fracking as a method for increasing production from West Virginia natural gas wells.

Overall, 76 percent of all respondents had a favorable opinion of the natural gas industry in West Virginia, including 41 percent with “strongly” favorable opinions.

“The future of West Virginia, I think, depends upon our ability to produce our natural resources and then use those natural resources in manufacturing that I think will eventually come here simply because this is where the mother lode of natural gas is,” DeMarco said.

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