West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania extend shale coalition

By Patrick C. Miller | March 26, 2018

West Virginia has agreed to extend the Tri-State Shale Coalition Agreement with Ohio and Pennsylvania to encourage regional cooperation and job growth by developing shale gas in the Appalachian Basin.

Gov. Jim Justice, R-West Virginia, last week announced the extension of the agreement with Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, and Gov. Tom Wolf, D-Pennsylvania. During annual Tri-State Shale summits, government, educational and industry leaders from across the region meet to share information and discuss best practices.

The Appalachians are recognized as a source of natural gas and other valuable resources. The three states host several chemical feedstock and plastics manufacturing businesses. The Tri-State Coalition participants intend to increase the region’s share of downstream-related business investments and the high-paying careers associated with them.

“Instead of competing, our three states are working together to promote the region as a center for shale-related manufacturing,” Justice said. “Shale gas presents an opportunity to spur economic growth beyond the wellhead.”

Under the agreement, the states work together on issues related to infrastructure systems, workforce development and marketing activities to better enable the region to harness the potential of Appalachian gas and natural gas liquids. The agreement identifies key areas in which the states cooperate to grow the natural gas industry, including workforce development, infrastructure and research.

“We are working to attract investors and downstream partners,” Justice said. “We are encouraging chemicals and plastics manufacturers to come here, stay here and grow here with us in the Appalachian region.”

According to the American Chemistry Council, a strong upsurge of investment in the U.S. chemical industry can be attributed at least in part to the plentiful supply of natural gas. The organization said this domestic supply gives U.S. chemical manufacturers a competitive edge, resulting in increased investment, industry growth and jobs. As of December 2017, the council reports, 317 projects cumulatively valued at $185 billion in capital investment have been announced.

A memorandum of understanding creating the Tri-State Shale Coalition was first signed in 2015 and renewed automatically each year. The new signatures continue the regional cooperation agreement through Dec. 31, 2021.

Supporting and guiding the coalition’s efforts are representatives from public-private, economic development and philanthropic organizations such as Vision Shared of West Virginia, TeamNEO of Ohio, The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Regional Pittsburgh Alliance of Pennsylvania.