Capito says private sector starting to get interested in storage hub proposal

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, center, First District Congressman David McKinley, right, and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, left, were part of Friday’s roundtable at WVU.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito continued the state’s congressional delegation’s push for an ethane storage hub to be located in the Appalachian region during a roundtable discussion Friday at WVU in Morgantown.

Capito, who led the discussion, said it was important to have U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry there to hear the many advantages of having a storage hub in another part of the country.

“This is good infrastructure development, job creator and also a security issue–using our own energy resources for value added products,” Capito said.

Capito, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and others have been pushing the project that would take the vast natural gas reserves and store liquid byproducts that can be used in manufacturing. Storage hubs are currently located in states like Texas but supporters say it’s time to place one closer to the natural gas.

A recent report by the American Chemistry Council said a storage hub could lead to nearly $70 billion in investment, economic expansion and tax revenues along with the creation of more than 100,000 jobs.

“There’s been a lot of groundwork getting other states on board–(private sector) investments are next,” Capito said.

Capito and Manchin are both on a bill that would expand some loan guarantees that would help attract private investment. There may be a chance for public-private partnerships, Capito said.

The private sector is looking for certainty that such a project would be viable, according to Capito.

“The supply question (amount of natural gas) has been answered. It’s much more than anyone could have imagined. The next question is the certainty in the regulatory environment,” she said.

The project appears to have the support of the Trump administration. Perry said Friday the President wants to maximize energy resources and maximize their benefits. The support is important, Capito said.

“In speaking as an (Trump) administration official, you need to have that solid backing not only from a regulatory aspect but also to spur investment,” she said.

Capito introduced the Appalachia Ethane Storage Hub Study Act of 2017 in May.

Manchin has called the ethane storage hub a “no brainer” and “game changer.”

“There’s not a better investment the state of West Virginia, the state of Pennsylvania and state of Ohio can make if they would take a certain portion and commit to, basically, what we call ‘prime the pump’ to get the private sector involved,” Manchin said earlier this year.

The board of directors of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association presented a resolution in favor of the storage hub during Friday’s roundtable.

“The opportunities presented by the development of the Appalachian ethane storage hub can transform economies throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York”, Anne Blankenship, executive director of WVONGA, said in a news release. “Our members, the producers and processors of natural gas and its by-products, recognize that the creation of the storage hub will generate unprecedented growth in our chemical and manufacturing sectors; leading to an economic revival not seen in the region in decades”

Perry was spent two days in West Virginia. He toured the Longview Power Plant and the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Monongalia County Thursday.

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