Justice is Not Served by Secret China Energy Deal?

by Duane Nichols on June 26, 2018

Chinese looking for opportunities at WVU

Lawsuit seeks to make China Energy deal information public

From an Article by Kate Mishkin, Charleston Gazette, June 23, 2018

A nonprofit law firm has filed a lawsuit against West Virginia University after the school failed to hand over public records about a deal between West Virginia and a Chinese energy company.

The $83.7 billion investment deal, forged in November 2017 between the state and China Energy, was the largest of several agreements China made with the United States. At the time, Gov. Jim Justice called the memorandum of understanding “the largest investment in our state’s history.”

WVU President Gordon Gee touted the deal as a “culmination of years of relationship building, both by West Virginia University and the state.”

Details about the deal remain murky, though. Appalachian Mountain Advocates asked for more information about the deal in November, asking for a number of documents from the WVU Energy Institute or its staff, including a copy of the agreement and emails that discussed the deal.

The university declined that request in December, saying the documents weren’t public, and they included trade secrets and information about economic development. Plus, a Freedom of Information Act officer for the university wrote, there were more than 15,000 emails that fit the description, and that parsing through those emails would be too great a task.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, names WVU as a defendant and seeks to unveil some of the details about the agreement.

WVU said in November it would work with state government to coordinate the investment, and the university had been researching coal liquefaction with Chinese government-owned coal mining company Shenhua Group and energy company Guodian Group. WVU, the state Department of Commerce and the Appalachian Development Group have been working to secure a loan from the U.S. Department of Energy for an Appalachian Storage and Trading Hub.

See also: Appalachian Mountain Advocates


For all the $83B in China Energy — what do we really have?

Newspaper Editorial, Morgantown Dominion Post, June 25, 2018

“Promise of big foreign investment in gas industry starting to look nebulous”

No, eight months don’t make two decades. But the size of the headlines in November, heralding an $83 billion investment in West Virginia over 20 years by China Energy, have shrunk. That’s not to say they disappeared, but lately they look to be a lot less sensational.

Last week, executives from China Energy failed to show for a regional petrochemical conference, quelling hopes for news about their plans. Those plans included projects focused on power generation, chemical manufacturing and underground storage of natural gas liquids and derivatives. Since then there appears to be growing reason for concern whether this investment will ever live up to its promise.

Two of the first announced projects — proposed gas-fired power plants in Harrison and Brooke counties — were initially said to be among the first of China Energy’s investments. The company behind those plants later said it’s not expecting any China Energy backing.

Then this year, in what started with tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels and washing machine, accelerated in March with tariffs on Chinese aluminum and steel, became an all-out trade war. In mid-June the Trump administration slapped tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, which Beijing has matched in a tit-for-tat showdown.

The governor discounted the recent resignation of the state’s Commerce secretary, who signed the memorandum of understanding with China Energy representatives. But we cannot help but think he was probably better acquainted with these plans than anyone.

Then China Energy officials cancelled their visit at the Northeast U.S. Petrochemical Construction Conference, in Pittsburgh. And all this comes on the heels of still no details about this investment or the sites being looked at for investment. So, where does the China Energy memorandum of understanding stand today? That’s a good question and rest assured it’s probably better than the answer you’ll get.

The governor would have us believe that this deal is safe because of his relationship with the president. WVU Energy Institute’s director assessed these developments as a “speed bump,” not a “road block.”

We hope this optimism is not misplaced, because our state looks to be on the rebound as this fiscal year ends. A small budget surplus looks to even be in the picture. It’s about time, too. But if this impasse continues for long our economic recovery may be on a slow boat to China.

See also: $83 Billion West Virginia Petrochemical Deal with China on Skids Due to Trade War, Corruption Probe | DeSmogBlog

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: