West Virginia Bets Big On Plastics, And On Backing Of Trump Administration

This tale was co-published with the Charleston Gazette-Mail. West Virginia’s elected leaders see the huge reserves as a way to renewed political and financial relevance for the Mountain State, that they envision rivaling the Gulf Coast as a middle for processing natural gas and producing plastics. 10 billion to build a mammoth underground storage facility – big enough to hold the U.S.

Capitol organic, or 10 million barrels of the liquid byproducts found in plastics manufacturing. The prospect of an energy jobs bonanza in a politically vital state stirred the interest of the White House. A senior Energy Department manager has been assigned to focus on the project, known as the Appalachian Trading and Storage Hub. The Trump administration’s relations with China and Russia are adding to the questions about the hub. China had agreed to make investments tens of vast amounts of dollars in West Virginia’s natural gas industry however now is embroiled in a trade war with Trump.

And American Ethane, a Houston-based company financed by three Russian businessmen, has agreed upon 20-year contracts to send ethane produced in America to China, which could increase prices and weaken demand for the facility proposed for West Virginia. From being dissuaded Far, state-market leaders, led by Sen. 1.9 billion Federal government loans promise that could attract vast amounts of dollars in private investment. If the hub’s programmers are successful, taxpayers could be on the hook for a large piece of any failure. Banks, though, would be in series for tens of millions of dollars in fund fees.

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“If that project gets a Federal loan guarantee, banks will be coating up 10 deep,” said James Cutler, a power industry investor and veteran chemical plant contractor from Houston. “Anybody who gets included gets 1.5 to 2% in fees simply for getting the offers together. Other big winners could be Manchin, a Democrat, and Gov.

Jim Justice, a Republican. 841,591 to Manchin’s 2018-election advertising campaign. 169,600 to Justice’s 2016 campaign, according to Vote Smart, which monitors election campaign financing. In an interview, Manchin said that he could be looking to Energy Secretary Rick Perry for assist in “streamlining” the loan review which he is urging the Treasury Department to invoke nationwide security concerns to prevent American Ethane’s export programs.

John Houghtaling, the chief executive of American Ethane, said Manchin is wrong. “The national security danger is not exporting ethane to China,” Houghtaling said within an interview. “They want the gas. Manchin, the position person in the Senate Natural and Energy Resources Committee, said the Federal government has to intervene.

If it doesn’t step in, the project is doomed, he said. “You are able to write off the storage hub for sure. From its start, where two tributaries meet at a wedge of parkland in Pittsburgh, the Ohio River surges north, south then, then west past high banks that have been the stage of every era of American industrial development. Thousands of feet below the river are thick layers of sodium and seams of shale and hard rock that encompass eons of geological development. The nation’s first petrochemical organic emerged in the 1920s along the Kanawha River in Charleston, West Virginia, to touch salt caverns for brine to make chlorine.