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‘Virtually No Risk of Drilling Restrictions,’ West Virginia Official Tells Fracking-Reliant Petrochemical Industry

‘Virtually No Risk of Drilling Restrictions,’ West Virginia Official Tells Fracking-Reliant Petrochemical Industry

A slide from a presentation by West Virginia official Michael Graney, who listed "virtually no risk of drilling restrictions" as a reason to bring fracked-gas reliant petrochemical development to the region.

This week, at an industry conference focused on wooing petrochemical producers to West Virginia, officials from the state and federal government made clear their support for continuing fracked shale gas extraction and petrochemical industry development near the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale.

Why should petrochemical companies build in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio? For one thing, don’t expect regulation of shale gas drilling, Michael Graney, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office, predicted in his presentation.

“Contrasted to other U.S. regions, Tri-State region is industry-supportive and industry-friendly,” read a slide that Graney, who was appointed by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice in September 2018, presented to the conference. “Virtually no risk of drilling restrictions.”

Graney also elicited “hallelujahs” from the crowd after describing West Virginia’s low worker turnover rates.

“We have earned an A from the Cato Institute in fiscal policies,” he told representatives from fossil fuel and petrochemical companies, referring to a libertarian think tank that Sourcewatch describes as “founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.”

‘Everything within the government’s power’

Traffic with a Shell plastic manufacturing plant in the background in Pennsylvania.


Shell is already building a massive plastic manufacturing plant reliant on fracked-gas feedstocks known as an “ethane cracker,” in Pennsylvania. Credit: Sharon Kelly, DeSmog

At the ninth annual West Virginia Manufacturers Association’s Marcellus and Manufacturing Development Conference, officials from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offered the petrochemical industry the services of the federal government.

“And what we’re going to do is everything within the government’s power to shine a bright light on this and help get this over the finish line,” Steven Winberg, the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, told the conference. “With regard to DOE, there’s a couple of things that we can do. One is, private sector investors can take advantage of the DOE’s loan guarantee program.”

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