West Virginia accepted as Energy Council member

WEIRTON — Delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, announced Friday that West Virginia has been admitted as a member of the Energy Council, an international coalition that focuses on energy-related issues within states and international provinces.

The Council voted unanimously during its Sept. 23 meeting to admit West Virginia as the 13th state to join the organization. Zatezalo attended the meeting, which took place in Oklahoma City. The Council also voted to support the development of a regional natural gas and natural gas liquids storage, pipeline and trading hub in West Virginia.

“Membership with the Energy Council is an important development for our state because it will give West Virginia lawmakers additional resources and a focused network to create and promote policies that encourage development of our state’s energy industry,” Zatezalo said. “I’ve been proud to spearhead this effort on behalf of our state and know it will reap benefits for us for many years to come.”

Formed in 1975, the Energy Council is an international non-partisan legislative organization now comprised of 13 energy-producing states and two Canadian provinces.

The Council provides a forum for member legislators to engage in dialogue and learn about energy and related-environmental issues of importance to their states or provinces, citizens, and environment, as well as employment and revenue bases.

Attending the 2018 Annual Meeting on behalf of the state, Zatezalo introduced West Virginia University Energy Institute Director Brian Anderson, who briefed participants by teleconference regarding the significance of the regional natural gas and NGL hub.

Entitled “West Virginia and a Regional Natural Gas and NGL Storage, Pipeline and Trading Hub,” the Energy Council’s policy statement urges federal policy makers to support West Virginia’s efforts to develop a regional natural gas and NGL storage, pipeline and trading hub that would maximize usage of Marcellus and Utica Shale natural gas resources, providing the basis for petrochemical production and manufacturing to serve all of North America.

The motions to admit West Virginia and approve the policy statement were made by two former Energy Council Chairs, Wyoming Senate President Eli Bebout and Oklahoma Representative Weldon Watson, as well as Chairman Jeff Delzer. All three had earlier visited the state Capitol in Charleston to meet with legislative leadership regarding West Virginia’s participation.

“The esteem in which West Virginia is held was evident by the unanimous votes of the Energy Council on both the state’s membership and support for its efforts to develop a gas trading hub,” Bebout said. “We are eager to have West Virginia’s energy perspective at the table.”

West Virginia becomes the eastern-most of the Energy Council’s 13 member states, which include Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska. The Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are also members.