West Virginia University Official to Head DOE Fossil Fuels Lab

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By Rebecca Kern

The director of the West Virginia University Energy Institute will head the Energy Department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, focused on fossil energy research, the department announced.

Brian Anderson, who founded the university’s energy institute in 2014, was named the National Energy Technology Laboratory director effective Nov. 11.

NETL is one of the Energy Department’s 17 national laboratories that invests in domestic coal, natural gas, and oil research and development. The lab is headquartered in Pittsburgh and also has locations in Albany, Ore., and Morgantown, W.Va.

Anderson’s scientific background and knowledge of fossil energy technologies will be an asset to him in the new position, energy professionals say. His work at the university’s energy institute was integral in securing the China Energy Investment Corp. Ltd.'s planned $83.7 billion investment in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia that were announced last November.

“Brian’s career experience and background in chemical engineering and his leadership as the executive director of WVU’s Energy Institute will no doubt be valuable assets to NETL,” Steven Winberg, the Energy Department’s assistant secretary for fossil energy, said in a Nov. 9 statement.

Michael Fulton, who handles public affairs for energy clients and is an adjunct professor at West Virginia University, told Bloomberg Environment that Anderson has multiple specialties. “He’s shown leadership not only in fossil fuels, but also shale gas in the Marcellus and Utica Shale arena, rare earth elements, water quality, and energy storage.”

Anderson has the backing of Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) as well.

“Brian not only brings stellar academic credentials to the position, he also understands the intersection of government, academia, and industry better than most,” McKinley said in Nov. 9 emailed statement to Bloomberg Environment.

Anderson will be replacing Sean Plasynski—the current acting director of NETL—who will become the laboratory’s deputy director and chief operating officer.

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