Local leaders assess impact of Ascent

PARKERSBURG – After the announcement of the selection of Wood County as the site of a carcker plant, local leaders spoke to what they see as the impact and benefits the plant could have on the county and surrounding areas.

State Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, said the Ascent plant may have effects on many aspects of the community.

“I can see it meaning so much starting with WVU-P, I can see it growing, I can see the airport growing, I can see the surrounding counties, not only Wood County, but all nearby counties benefitting from this,” she said.

State Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, said the Ascent announcement is the biggest development project to come to the area in many years

“All the communities in our region and our friends over in Ohio will benefit,” he said. “It will probably have the most impact of anything in my lifetime. Everybody has worked so hard from the governor, to the commerce secretary to the legislature to prepare for this and try to create an atmosphere that would entice those companies here. And today we all see this.”

Nohe said he expects the legislature will do what it can to help make the development of ASCENT to proceed.

“I’m on the gas and mining committee,” he said. “We have tried to steer all our legislation toward a plant like this coming to Wood County. We will continue to tweek it and like they were talking today about the stages of this they will move to stage two.

“Anything the governor wants I would look for him to call us into special session and will adapt anything we can do to make this a reality.”

Boley agreed saying the state House and Senate have passed bills to make drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shale in West Virginia worthwhile and will continue to do so.

The potential also is great for the school system and West Virginia University at Parkersburg where the college can tailor programs for the cracker plant, its operation and construction, said Joe Campbell of the WVU-Parkersburg board of governors. Welding and drafting are two examples, he said.

“We can tailor programs to what they need,” Campbell said.

The plant expands opportunities for students, Wood County School Superintendent Pat Law said.

“We are very excited for our community, for our students,” Law said. “It’s a great opportunity to find good jobs for a life time.”

Although he did not attend the announcement, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D – W.Va., issued a statement calling the cracker plant an opportunity for the region.

“Today’s announcement brings with it the opportunity for robust economic development and much-needed job creation in the region, and that cannot be overstated,” Rockefeller said. “However, we’re at the frontier of the fracking revolution and everything surrounding shale gas development absolutely must be done responsibly. West Virginia stands to benefit greatly from today’s announcement, but only if the environmental, health, and economic interests of West Virginians are the top priority every step of the way.

“Governor Tomblin deserves enormous credit for working tirelessly to bring this multi-billion dollar investment to the state and I commend him for all his efforts to create jobs and boost our state’s economy.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., issued a statement today in regards to the announcement about the potential to build West Virginia’s first cracker plant:

“With our state’s continued development of natural gas drilling, I am extremely pleased Governor Tomblin has announced that the Brazilian company, Odebrecht, is interested in exploring the development of a new petrochemical complex in Wood County,” he said. “After years of our local and state leaders working together with energy companies worldwide, this is a textbook example of how a public-private partnership can strengthen not only West Virginia, but also the entire Mid-Ohio Valley region. “

Manchin said he thanked all who were involved in making it possible.

“I thank Gov. Tomblin, Odebrecht and all the parties involved in making this deal possible, especially since it will create thousands of good-paying jobs in the construction, energy and manufacturing sectors, while keeping us strong and competitive,” he said. “As plans develop and work on this venture continues, I stand ready to assist in any way that I can while also making sure this Administration and the EPA work as our partner and not as our adversary.”