Appalachian Storage Hub
The Appalachian Storage Hub (ASH) is a $10 billion proposed infrastructure project from the Appalachian Development Group that would expand fracking, frack waste, and related industry development. The proposed petrochemical complexes would include cracker plants, regulating stations, and more. Natural gas liquids would be stored within underground storage facilities and transported through several pipelines.
When the "Shale Revolution" developed in the late 2000's and early 2010's, brought about by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), thousands of wells in the Marcellus and Utica-Point Pleasant shale throughout Appalachia were drilled. In the first half decade, wells had steeper declines leading to "super laterals." These are horizontal wells that are more than three miles long and require more than fifteen million gallons of water and 15,000 tons of silica sand. These "super laterals" became a way for the industry to turn a quick profit while cutting down on supply costs. With the outgrowth of fracking, the industry shifted towards investment in supporting the development of other natural gas liquids to support a growing petrochemical industry (propane, ethane, butane).
Oil and natural gas development throughout the 2010's led to the industry's decision to support the production of their mega-infrastructure petrochemical complex - the Appalachian Storage Hub. The ASH is the natural gas industry's attempt to ensure the Ohio Valley is trapped for generations in a dying, destructive economy.
Elected leaders from Ohio to D.C. see this region and its resources as vital to the country's energy independence and national security. Senator Joe Manchin, for example, introduced SB 1064 - Appalachian Energy for National Security Act - in 2019 to require the Secretary of Energy to "conduct a study on the national security implications of building ethane and other natural-gas-liquids-related petrochemical infrastructure in the United States, and for other purposes." Former-governor John Kasich, likewise, is an adamant proponent of ASH. Kasich is a supporter of the proposed PTTG cracker plant in Dilles Bottom, OH, which is a critical component to ASH and would convert fracked ethane into ethylene to create polyethylene plastic. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice found in the project a collaborative effort with others in PA, OH, and KY. Even PA Governor Tom Wolf is in favor of the project, signing an agreement at the Tri-State Shale Summit in 2016 promising "collaboration between the states in securing crackers for the region and, by extension, support of the storage hub."
Many elected officials have use the excuse of ASH being "critical infrastructure" that they have legislated its continued existence. Ohio State Representatives Don Jone and George Lang introduced HB 242, which became effective in January 2021, and "prohibits the imposition of a tax or fee on [auxiliary or plastic] containers, and to apply existing anti-littering law to those containers." Similarly, State Senator Frank Hoagland introduced SB 33, which became effective in April 2021, and increases penalties on individuals engaged in civil disobedience and peaceful protests at sites of "critical infrastructure." Protesters who trespass onto a pipeline construction site could face a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Anyone caught "tampering" with pipelines could face even steeper penalties - up to $20,000 in fines and the possibility of 10 years in jail. For groups that encourage individuals to break this law can face even steeper penalties, including upwards of $100,000 in fines.
As our region suffers the health impacts of the petrochemical and fracking industries, residents face state-imposed penalties for attempting to protect themselves from the dangers implicit in living here.
Know the Threats of the Petrochemical Industry Virtual Information Session
On August 12, 2020, Concerned Ohio River Residents hosted a virtual public meeting regarding the Mountaineer Natural Gas Liquids Underground Storage Facility proposed for Monroe County, OH and related infrastructure, like the PTTGC cracker plant, as part of our ongoing effort to educate the community about the public health and safety risks posed by the petrochemical industry expansion in the Ohio River Valley. In addition to public health concerns, economic experts have shared that the petrochemical industry is not likely to expand much in this area, and will fail to provide the previously forecasted employment growth and economic "boom".