Bill calls for Appalachian petrochemical hub

Staff Reports

WASHINGTON — A bill directing the Appalachian Regional Commission to direct money for the creation of the Appalachian petrochemical hub was introduced by West Virginia’s three members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Appalachian Regional Energy Hub would store the liquids from natural gas, including ethane. The liquids are used to make plastics, among other uses.

Three sites have been identified in West Virginia for the hub, including in Tyler County in the Bens Run Area.

Hurricane Harvey in 2017 exposed a weakness in America’s petrochemical industry, a release from the representatives said. Most of the ethylene in the country is produced in Texas and Louisiana, a region vulnerable to major storms like Hurricane Harvey.

“Investing in our energy infrastructure will help grow our economy and make America more secure,” Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said.

The storage and distribution hub would create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, spark investments and bring billions of dollars in revenue to the region, he said.

“This legislation will create good-paying, dependable jobs, grow our economy, and provide much-needed infrastructure development throughout the region,” Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., said.

The House bill says the Regional Commission may provide technical assistance, provide grants or enter into contracts for research into the economic impact of an ethane storage hub in the Appalachian region and help establish the hub and associated pipelines.

The regional commission’s region includes all of West Virginia and portions of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Senate passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee the Appalachian Energy for National Security Act that was sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. The bill would require the Department of Energy to study national and economic security benefits of an Appalachian storage hub.