West Virginia has long been a leading producer of energy for America, including coal for domestic and export, and more recently, natural gas. Our rich reserves of these fossil fuels provide a reliable source of energy for future generations of Americans. Investments in clean coal technologies have enabled electric generation plants to operate much cleaner than ever before. But the federal government, through legislation and regulation, has continually made it more difficult and expensive to mine and burn coal. West Virginians want a safe mining system and technologies to burn coal in an environmentally safe way. Some would argue that federal, and sometimes state, regulators go far beyond what is required to unreasonably penalize coal production, and make it too expensive to operate coal. Broad environmental rules are established based on global warming concerns, even though it is clear that other major economies in the world (China and Europe) do not attempt to limit their carbon emissions. If worldwide emissions are to be limited, it would appear that America would be the only significant national program to be engaged while others are systematically increasing their emissions.

The recent advances in deep horizontal drilling techniques to produce natural gas from Marcellus Shale reserves found under West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania promises a significant source of natural gas. By products of this “wet gas” include methane, which can be converted into ethylene and become a source of raw materials for production of plastics, in quantities significant enough to help revitalize our chemical industry.

West Virginia is establishing laws to regulate the production of Marcellus Shale gas, how we drill, transport, process and burn it. What are the considerations facing this important new energy segment? How do we encourage it while maintaining reasonable control over it? What are the environmental and economic factors important to consider to production of Marcellus Shale gas?

Energy Speaks

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