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Natural Gas

Bill would create storage hub

Putting all of one’s eggs in a single basket usually is a bad idea. Yet we Americans have done just that with a vital industry.

For decades, the Gulf Coast has been the focal point of our nation’s petrochemical industry. Because much of the oil and natural gas produced in the United States came from that region, locating downstream plants there seemed to make sense.

But, as three members of Congress from West Virginia point out, having about 95% of U.S. ethylene production on the Gulf Coast is risky business. Even one major hurricane could crippled the industry, perhaps for weeks or even months.

Times change, and it has turned out our region of the country offers an alternative — because Appalachian states, not the Gulf Coast, have become the place to drill for national gas.

U.S. Reps. David McKinley, Carol Miller and Alex Mooney, all R-W.Va., have introduced a bill on the issue in the House of Representatives. If enacted, it would direct the Appalachian Regional Commission to provide funding to aid in creation of a storage hub for natural gas liquids in our area.

That bill ought to be enacted. More important, federal agencies should make creation of such a hub a priority.

It happens that our area of West Virginia is an excellent place for a storage hub. There are two reasons for that: First, the geology of northwestern West Virginia is excellent for underground storage of natural gas liquids. Second, of course, our region has plentiful supplies of gas.

Placing a storage hub in our area would create thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of new jobs. It would be an important step in diversifying our economy.

And, by getting some petrochemical production out of the Gulf Coast, it would serve as an important safeguard for the national economy.

McKinley has been a leader in the campaign to create a storage hub in our area. He is right to make that a priority — and President Donald Trump’s administration should, too.