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gasfacts2019

By Chris Ventura

A rally on the steps of the West Virginia Capitol is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 21. Energy workers, many in the oil and natural gas sectors, will attend. The rally will center on energy policy, according to reports, and how it impacts the industry they work in.

You should join them.

Yes, the energy sector is the backbone of the state’s economy. West Virginia is the ninth-largest natural gas-producing state, with reserves and production increasing with drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

If you talk to those in the natural gas industry, they will tell you that West Virginia sits at the epicenter of what could potentially be the economic development future of the Mountain State — if not the nation.

The Marcellus and Utica natural gas fields are deep, rich and plentiful. And with planned pipelines and talk of a storage and trading hub, the industry is on the tip of a major boom.

But it’s not there yet, according to industry leaders. Natural gas is still selling at around $2 per MCF. That’s not very profitable for companies that are spending millions, if not billions, of dollars trying to extract it from the ground.

West Virginia’s natural gas industry made tremendous strides in 2017. Natural gas production increased, interstate gas pipelines were approved, progress was made toward developing a regional gas liquids storage and trading hub and, incredibly, China Energy proposes to invest billions of dollars in the state’s energy, chemical and manufacturing industries.

This is all great news and tremendously beneficial for West Virginia’s long-term economic and job prospects. However, the missing component necessary to truly maximize the opportunities the gas industry offers — and to compete with our surrounding states — is the passage of co-tenancy legislation.

CLARKSBURG — Hiring is underway for pipeline projects in the state.

Tree felling has already started in West Virginia to make way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will carry natural gas from Harrison County to Robeson County, North Carolina.

Another project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, expects tree felling to start soon in some locations. This pipeline will run from northwestern West Virginia to Southern Virginia.

“A definitive construction start date has not yet been set,” according to Natalie Cox, Mountain Valley Pipeline spokesperson. “Given the issuance of partial notices to proceed by the (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) for select areas along the route, it is likely that activity in West Virginia will begin with tree felling.”

BLUEFIELD — Two natural gas pipelines originating in the state could mean economic benefits for all residents, local legislators say.

Both pipelines, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), will start in the Marcellus Formation shale fields in north central West Virginia.

The MVP is a 303-mile, 42-inch diameter, $3.5 billion line that will end in Chatham, Va. and run through both Monroe and Giles counties. The ACP is 600 miles long and will end in North Carolina.

Although the pipelines have faced stiff opposition from residents in many of the counties impacted, including Monroe and Giles counties, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given both the green light.

Del. John Shott (R-Mercer County) said the lines will bring opportunities, not only for tax revenue but for other state uses.

Nearly 360,000 West Virginians depend on food stamps to make ends meet — that’s 19.5 percent of the state’s population. For these households, paying for food and necessities like clothing and shelter is already a daily struggle, let alone paying an electricity bill that could have been much lower with the right set of policies.

That’s because keeping the lights on, and their homes warm, takes a bigger bite out of the budget for this these households than it does for the average family.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the bottom fifth of households spent 22 percent of their take-home pay on residential utility bills and gasoline in April 2016. That’s significantly higher than the 6 percent experts say is “affordable.”

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge on Friday granted approval for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to move ahead with eminent domain on properties along the project’s path in northern West Virginia counties.

The decision stands to give the pipeline developers access to disputed property even before fair value is assessed.