As the curtains closed on the 2022 West Virginia legislative session, it was easy to get caught up in partisan politics and focus on what separates us rather than what unites us. As the session draws to a close, policies that leverage the innovation, talent, and resources found right here in West Virginia—while creating a healthier, more prosperous future for all of us—are the ones on which we can hear us all.
The development and use of our natural resources is more important than ever. Not only is American energy being used to meet Europe’s critical needs amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but our neighbors right here in the United States rely on the energy security afforded by our abundant gas. natural and our oil.
And in fact, despite pressure from opponents to say otherwise, a majority of Americans (nearly 70%) believe the United States should conserve a mix of energy resources, including fossil fuels, according to a Pew Research report. .
“Many Americans anticipate new problems for the country if it were to significantly reduce fossil fuel generation while increasing renewable energy generation,” the report said.
From Washington, DC to Charleston, there is movement on the horizon that sets West Virginia up for sustained economic growth as our energy mix evolves. And our congressional leaders on Capitol Hill (Rep. David McKinley and Sens. Shelley Capito and Joe Manchin) have worked hard to secure funding for the people of West Virginia under the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“This nearly $6 billion guaranteed investment in West Virginia will create long-term, well-paying jobs now and into the next decade,” Capito and Manchin wrote after the bill passed. “Every West Virginia will benefit from this bipartisan bill.”
These funds will not only improve our infrastructure and preserve our communities, but they are an investment in innovation and secure West Virginia’s place in the future of energy development.
For example, $8 billion in funds from the infrastructure bill have been allocated to establish hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) centers in places like Appalachia where natural gas is abundant. .
“I guess you can say that’s a code word for West Virginia,” McKinley said.
Groundbreaking research to facilitate a hydrogen and CCS center is already underway in Morgantown at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, bringing us to the forefront of new energy and environmental technologies. Securing finance, encouraging business development and adopting other pro-growth policies are key to taking advantage of these generational opportunities.
At the state level, legislation such as the bill introduced to Governor Jim Justice will create a state regulatory agenda for underground carbon dioxide storage and establish a framework that sets the tone for any hub concept. potential in the region.
Working groups, like the one launched by Sens. Manchin and Capito, Congressman McKinley and Governor Justice are also promoting the development of a hydrogen hub in West Virginia.
The abundant use of natural gas combined with carbon capture technology to produce so-called blue hydrogen could be a source of economic development and help heavy industry to significantly reduce emissions.
Senator Manchin said it perfectly when he called this “an incredible opportunity to show how West Virginia can continue to lead the country – and the world – in advancing energy technology and bringing in good jobs.” paid to the state.
Research, innovation, dedicated workers, and best-in-class energy resources drive West Virginia’s success, and our state has an important role to play in shaping the future of energy. We just need the right policies in place to foster that growth.
Charlie Burd is executive director of the Gas and Oil Association of WV (GO-WV) in Charleston. Learn more at GOWV.com.