Governor Justice extols China natural gas deal on ‘Fox and Friends’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice touted West Virginia’s deal with China Energy during a cable appearance on “Fox and Friends” this morning.

China Energy Investment signed a memorandum of understanding for $83.7 billion in West Virginia projects over 20 years.

Justice didn’t reveal many new details about the deal but emphasized its promise before a national audience. The hosts of “Fox and Friends” asked Justice if the investments would result in jobs for West Virginians.

“Absolutely. Absolutely. They’ll be investing dollars here,” Justice said. “That’s what the president said all along — create a better balance of trade. They’re going to be investing dollars here, investing structures, investing manufacturing here, building crackers and all the things that tie back to natural gas and to tie back into the petrochemical industry.

“So we’re really excited. I could tease and say daggone we were really hoping for $100 billion. But $84 billion within the state of West Virginia is more money than any of us can think about and more job opportunity for great West Virginians.”

The governor was also asked about what’s happened in West Virginia since he switched parties from Democrat to Republican. He made reference to the $500 million budget deficit the state faced in his early months as governor, although some of that was created by his desire to spend more.

“In all honesty, when I came to the party, we had a $500 million hole in the bucket and nowhere to return. We really revamped education. We passed a road bond referendum of $3 billion to do infrastructure projects. We have a lot of different things going on, and now the China deal that will really set us on fire,” he said.

“The bottom line is, we’ve got great people, we’ve got great seasons and we’re within a rock’s throw of two thirds of the country. And we’ve got natural resources just beyond belief. This place has always been a hidden jewel but we just didn’t have the jobs component to be able to really drive everything here. So this will do it. West Virginia is a wonderful place. We want everyone to come.”

Observers of the deal with China Energy have expressed optimism about its possibilities but have cautioned that it’s unclear the extent of the deal or what its direct results may be.

State officials signed a memorandum of understanding with China, which is less official than contracts for particular projects would be. No particular projects have been described, and state leaders have declined to release the memorandum or any kind of list of projects.

Tim Miley

In an appearance last week on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” House Minority Leader Tim Miley pointed to a Wall Street Journal article headlined “A U.S. Natural-Gas Bonanza in China Isn’t a Done Deal.”

“Even though the Wall Street Journal is raising important questions about Chinese energy investments in the United States, I hope this major investment will help our state in every way possible,” said Miley, D-Harrison.

Miley made reference to a couple of projects, such as an ethane cracker in Wood County and an ammunition plant in Kanawha County, that have not come to fruition.

“I just try to make it a habit of tempering my enthusiasm because I’ve been disappointed before when these announcements have been made,” Miley said.

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