Another Ill Concieved Marcellus Mission to China by WV Bureaucrats

by Duane Nichols on May 31, 2019

Ed Gaunch, WV Secretary of Commerce

China Energy requests meeting with state officials in China

From an Article by Jeff Jenkins in MetroNews, May 29, 2019.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A delegation made up of mostly state government officials will travel to China and Japan later this week for what’s being called a business development mission.

State Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch will lead the delegation that will leave Friday for an eight-day trip that will include stops in Beijing, Tokyo and Nagoya.

The stop in China will include meetings with officials from China Energy, the company that signed a memorandum of understanding with the state in 2017 with potential of $83 billion investment in West Virginia natural gas projects.

China Energy requested the visit, Gaunch said during an appearance Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “We’re going really at their encouragement,” Gaunch said. “They’ve said, ‘We invite you. We want you. It would be helpful if you would come to China.’ So that’s why we’re going.”

Gaunch said he doesn’t know of any pending announcement of a specific China Energy project but he’s hopeful. “I can hope like all other West Virginians that we will have an announcement forthcoming in the very near future. I don’t have any evidence of that heading into this trip that one is forthcoming immediately but we’re hopeful one will be coming shortly,” Gaunch said.

Back in November 2017, then-Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher traveled to China to sign the MOU while President Donald Trump looked on.

Gov. Jim Justice spoke with excitement about the sheer amount of the potential investment. “For crying out loud, it absolutely takes your breath,” Justice said at the time.

But the investment has also been shrouded in mystery. State officials have been unwilling to release the memorandum of understanding, and they also said they could not elaborate on specifics of the projects, saying they would evolve over the 20-year span of the agreement.

The signing of the MOU with China Energy took place in Nov. 2017 as President Trump looked on. Executives from China Energy cancelled a trip to a petrochemical conference in the U.S. last June over the ongoing strain over trade between China and the U.S.

Some have doubted whether China Energy will make investments anywhere close to $83 billion. Gaunch said China Energy officials have remained interested and visited the state several times. “I’d rather be the state that has this memo of understanding than the state that doesn’t,” Gaunch said.

The West Virginia delegation will also have a chance to meet with other Chinese companies during the visit in hopes of attracting more investment.

The trip to Japan will be used to thank representatives of the 21 Japanese businesses that already do business in the Mountain State along with meeting with some new prospects, Gaunch said.

The traveling party includes Gaunch, four representatives of the state Development Office, state Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy and Gov. Justice’s senior adviser Bray Cary, who Gaunch said would be paying his own way.

House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw and state Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, are also scheduled to be part of the delegation. Takubo won’t join the group until it arrives in Japan because of Saturday’s special session on education reform.


See Also: Appalachia’s $84 Billion Secret — China and the U.S. are planning a massive petrochemical hub in West Virginia.

The biggest energy project you’ve never heard of commonly goes by the acronym ASTH—the Appalachian Storage and Trading Hub. This massive petrochemical hub in West Virginia and Pennsylvania would be the largest infrastructure in the region’s history, consisting of hundreds of miles of pipelines, fracked gas processing facilities, and underground storage of petrochemicals and fracked gas liquids.

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K. M. Kowalski June 2, 2019 at 1:42 am

‘Short-sighted’ Economic Development Plan

That’s a “short-sighted economic development plan,” countered Climate & Energy Program Director Mitch Jones at Food & Water Watch’s Baltimore office. “They’re rushing here to replace the coal industry with another fossil fuel industry.”

Scientists say there’s a growing urgency to curb fossil fuels to avoid some of the worst impacts of climate change. Recent reports also call for cutting down on single-use plastics, which are linked to ocean and freshwater pollution, Jones said. Appalachia would be better off focusing on the renewable energy industry, he said.

Critics also say the project could lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions by boosting natural gas production in the region.

“If anything, it’s going to result in a dramatic uptick in drilling and likely flaring and other emissions upstream if this thing comes online,” said Ted Auch, Great Lakes program coordinator for FracTracker Alliance.

Critics also question the propriety of having U.S. taxpayers guarantee a loan for a project that will have significant funding from Chinese investors.

“I have no idea why our government would issue loan guarantees to facilitate foreign investments for product that is intended to prop up the faltering fracking industry, as well as to be shipped overseas,” said Leatra Harper, managing director for the FreshWater Accountability Project.


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