October 28, 2011

Manchin: Shale can help state | The Dominion Post

“Do not miss this opportunity.”
That was Sen. Joe Manchin’s message to legislators and state regulators Thursday night regarding the vast reserves of Marcellus shale natural gas lying within the state’s borders.
“Do not miss out on the potential that lies in the Marcellus, not only for energy — but also for job creation and economic development and the rebirth of a region,” he said.
Manchin, D-W.Va., delivered his message as part of his keynote address at WVU law school’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development inaugural event — “Drilling Down on Regulatory Challenges: Balancing Preservation and Profitability in the Development of Shale Gas Resources.”
The symposium opened Thursday with a dinner and Manchin’s address, and continues today with a series of panel discussions at the law school.
Law School Dean Joyce McConnell put the symposium into perspective. West Virginia lies at the epicenter of America’s energy future, and with the right balance of public and environmental protections, the Marcellus promises local and global benefits.
Manchin mixed words of promise with words of warning for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“The Marcellus shale could truly be a game-changer for our state,” he said. “It can create jobs, boost the economy and lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil.”
He rattled off statistics from several economic reports:
In 1972, America was 28 percent dependent on foreign oil; now it’s more than 50 percent dependent. Money is going to nations that don’t wish us well, when it could be rebuilding America.
A proposed ethane cracker plant — ethane is natural gas byproduct that can be used for plastics and other purposes — could create more than 2,300 West Virginia jobs.
Business investments could reach $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
It could also lead to $3.2 billion in downstream chemical products, $7 billion in additional output and 12,000 chemical industry jobs.
Potentially standing in way though, he said, is the EPA. “Sometimes it seems that this administration is trying to wipe our state of f the map,” Manchin said, adding that it also is blind to the potential available in the nation’s “vast untapped resources.” ... We see the EPA pass more and more regulations that are paralyzing investment, raising costs and killing jobs.”
Regulation should be driven by the states, he said. “States know the needs of their people best. ... I would caution the EPA: More overreach is the last thing we need here. I hope the EPA will work as a partner the way they should.”
Manchin ended his message by noting that West Virginia isn’t just about coal and gas. It has the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi River and other resources, such as hydropower and biomass.
But progress, he said, can’t come at the cost of the public it’s supposed to benefit. “I have always said that we must seek a balance between our environmental concerns and our economic considerations. ... We have to ensure that processes like fracking do not do catastrophic harm to our natural environment. We have a responsibility to our children to ensure that our air is clean, our water is clear and that our environment is no worse off than the way we found it.”
Today’s activities
The symposium resumes at 8:30 this morning at the law school. Speakers and panelists will include legislators, regulators, industry experts, professors, attorneys, and representatives of environmental and landowner interests.
Panels will cover state regulator perspectives, federal regulations, experiences from other shale regions, industry perspectives, other stakeholders’ views, local fracking regulation and economic benefits.
Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, is scheduled to give an update from the Joint Select Committee on Marcellus Shale.
And former Oklahoma Rep. Dave McCurdy, now president and CEO of the American Gas Association, will deliver the day’s keynote address.

By:  David Beard
Source: Stresses potential of natural resource