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West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio leaders pledge to help build area’s shale industry

MORGANTOWN — Community members, leaders and government officials from three states gathered Tuesday to collaborate on ideas in regards to the shale industry.

The 2015 Tri-State Shale Summit, which took place in Morgantown at the Waterfront Hotel, featured speakers and guest panelists from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The purpose of the event was to provide a discussion on the future of Marcellus shale and Utica shale in the region.

Among those in attendance were U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Ohio’s Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. The governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, provided a video message.

During the event, Tomblin, Taylor and Wolf signed an agreement that pledged support and cooperation in the tri-state area for development of the natural gas industry in the Appalachian Basin.

“The Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Team NorthEast Ohio and Vision Shared in West Virginia congratulate Gov. Tomblin, Gov. Wolf and Lt. Gov. Taylor on signing this unprecedented memorandum of understanding,” the groups said in a joint statement.

“This is a critical step toward demonstrating that our tri-state region is ready, willing and able to make downstream-related business investment a win-win for the region and for the firms — large and small — that have operations in the new global petrochemical center that is the Appalachian Basin.”

Manchin said he was glad he had the opportunity to attend this event and hear from others in this industry.

In related news, Ohio, W.Va., Pennsylvania combine efforts on gas drilling.

“West Virginia has provided the energy (that) this country has needed for a long time, and we’re going to continue to do that,” Manchin said. “The thing I was so enthralled about is now we have a regional approach.”

He said it’s vital that leaders from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio work together to help build the shale industry in this area.

“Bringing the three states together to have this type of conference says that we could have what they have in the Gulf Coast,” Manchin said.

He said he recently visited the Gulf Coast and has seen firsthand what the shale industry can do to boost an area in various ways.

Manchin said in the long run, having three states work together could provide an opportunity where everyone can win.

“Don’t look at the boundaries,” Manchin said. “There’s no reason why we can’t reinvigorate our chemical industry.”

Manchin recognized that some people believe the oil and gas industry is harmful to the environment.

“My response is, ‘Show me that has done something wrong or a violation, and we … can repair that or fix that,'” Manchin said. “The bottom line is that if the government and all of us aren’t willing to find the new technology that makes everything as safe as humanly possible and clean as humanly possible, then how can you berate the people that’s providing the energy we all depend on?”

Manchin said he believes the future is bright for the shale industry in the tri-state area.

“These three states have developed in the Utica and the Marcellus (shale) 85 percent of the new gas production,” Manchin said.

Like Manchin, Tomblin spoke about the importance of the oil and gas industry.

“The development of West Virginia’s natural gas industry, although still in its infancy, has the potential to be a game-changer not only in West Virginia, but for the tri-state region,” Tomblin said in a press release. “As technology continues to pave the way for new opportunities and create good-paying jobs for hardworking West Virginians, we are also working to support new investors and downstream industry partners who want to locate and invest in our region and our state’s workforce.”

Panel discussions during the event focused on regionalism, research, innovation, workforce and education.

This article was written by ANGELEE WILEY from Times West Virginian, Fairmont and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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