Letter: Natural gas growth wonderful news for West Virginia

Recent one-sided Gazette-Mail articles, written in partnership with the advocacy publication ProPublica, mislead readers by failing to emphasize how the region’s flourishing natural gas market benefits West Virginia: It has put thousands of local workers back to work, saved families and provided a paycheck where there wasn’t one.

Regional production of cleaner-burning natural gas has also improved the environment; generated record quantities of affordable, reliable fuel and electricity; mass-produced jobs in energy and non-energy fields; and helped businesses of varying sectors, from grocery stores to hotels — all while providing family-supporting wages that pay down mortgages, buy food and fill prescriptions.

The availability of low-cost natural gas for use in the manufacturing process or as a feedstock has also made West Virginia a go-to location for traditional and advanced industries to set up shop and expand their businesses.

Shale Crescent USA recently reported that the Utica and Marcellus shales will provide 37 percent of the country’s natural gas production by 2040, and an analysis last year by the American Chemistry Council said the Appalachian region was slated to become the next epicenter of petrochemical and plastic resin manufacturing.

This is wonderfully positive news for West Virginia.

But to sustain these jobs — and to keep collecting the millions in state and local revenue for public services, schools and infrastructure that industry provides — policymakers must maintain a regulatory climate that ensures producers keep producing in West Virginia.

The state’s best hope for the future leans on being competitive with other producing regions, domestically and internationally, when it comes to taxes and regulations, not weakening its attractiveness as a hotbed to invest in with unnecessary red tape — and state lawmakers should be commended for doing just that so far.

Chris Ventura, Columbus, Ohio.

Ventura is midwest director of the Consumer Energy Alliance.

This letter to the editor was authored by Chris Ventura, midwest director of the Consumer Energy Alliance, and featured in the Charleston Gazette Mail's Daily Mail opinion page. Click here to read it on the publication's website.