Manchin Aims to Tack Appalachian Ethane Hub on Energy Bill

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By Brian Dabbs

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is ready to take a stab at creating an ethane storage hub in Appalachia that could break ground for more ethane use nationwide, while boosting manufacturing in the region.

Manchin told Bloomberg BNA July 12 he is aiming to propose an amendment on the Senate energy package to qualify a storage facility as a “critical infrastructure project,” which would expedite Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing.

The facility’s supporters, including the American Chemistry Council, argue it will pave the way for more nationwide use of ethane, a liquid derived from natural gas production that is used in consumer products and chemicals.

Manchin, along with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), introduced the measure as a stand-alone bill (S. 1337) in June.

“That just gives it so much certainty to move forward. It gives it a pathway,” Manchin, who described the energy bill as a “perfect vehicle,” told Bloomberg BNA.

The energy bill (S. 1460) already contains a provision to compel the Energy Department to study the benefits of a ethane storage facility in the Marcellus, Utica, and Rogersville shale regions, which span from New York to Tennessee, but a spokeswoman for Manchin said the licensing is now the bigger priority.

Both Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) are pledging an open amendment process for the energy bill, but timing is so far unclear.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Dabbs in Washington at bdabbs@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

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