WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the direction of President Trump, the U.S. Department of Energy this week released a report titled, “The Appalachian Energy and Petrochemical Renaissance: An Assessment of Economic Progress and Opportunities.”
The report is in response to the President’s directive in Executive Order 13868, Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth to assess opportunities to promote growth in the Appalachian region. Built on the foundation of its rich energy resources, workforce, a pro-growth business environment, and geography, a renaissance is underway in Appalachia with much potential for job creation and economic opportunity. Working together, the public and private sectors have an opportunity to accelerate this renaissance to the economic benefit of the region and the United States.
“The energy-rich Appalachian region is now the single largest natural gas producing region of the country and increasingly is becoming a major producer of natural gas liquids, including ethane, propane, and butane,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “These resources can serve as feedstocks for new opportunities in low-cost power generation, petrochemicals, and the manufacturing industry. Harnessing these opportunities will decrease our reliance on foreign-sourced supply-chains, as showcased by the COVID-19 pandemic, and bring back U.S. jobs to this important region of the country.”
Noting Appalachia’s continued abundance of coal resources, Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes said, “There are new market opportunities emerging for coal outside of its traditional use for power generation. These opportunities rely on coal’s unique composition and include using coal to manufacture infrastructure products, conductive printing inks, carbon fiber, and as a source for rare earth elements and critical minerals that contribute to our national security. This is just the beginning of a new role for coal, new possibilities for Appalachia, and incredible opportunities to boost the United States economy.”
These new uses for coal can provide a continued economic base for Appalachian communities dependent on coal production. As an example, West Virginia has seen multiple coal-to-products companies expand operations in the past year.
The assessment drew input principally from Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, as well as Federal agencies that contribute to the foundation for Appalachia’s economic growth. The Department of Energy led the effort with contributions from the Appalachian Regional Commission and six other federal agencies. The assessment noted remarkable economic progress over the past few years, and acknowledges the recent national economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.
“Now is the time to accelerate the Administration’s pre-COVID successes as an important component of our U.S. economic rebound,” said Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steve Winberg. “Continuing to build on the significance of the region, this report highlights the future potential of Appalachia.”
This report emphasizes that private capital is an engine for economic growth, and if the public sector invests in a pro-growth business environment, public infrastructure, workforce development, and innovation, it acts as a catalyst to bring forward private capital investment and creates new business opportunities.
More information on the report, “The Appalachian Energy and Petrochemical Renaissance: An Assessment of Economic Progress and Opportunities,” is available online here.
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