W.Va. bills pass on carbon sequestration, hydrogen hubs

Jan 19, 2023, 11:44 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2023, 2:02 pm
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice delivers his annual State of the State address in the House Chambers...

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice delivers his annual State of the State address in the House Chambers at the state capitol in Charleston, W.Va., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Chris Jackson)

(AP Photo/Chris Jackson)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Two bills designed make it easier for West Virginia to attract hydrogen hubs and carbon sequestration projects to the historically coal-dependent state are headed to the desk of Republican Gov. Jim Justice.

The bills, which won final approval from the state legislature on Friday, would allow some kinds of state-owned land to be leased or sold for economic development projects that remove harmful gas emissions from the atmosphere and store it underground.

Carbon sequestration and storage has long been touted as an answer to global warming, a way to curb the energy industry’s burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. The bills could also open up land for storing emissions for a potential hydrogen hub project.

Lawmakers did not disclose whether the bills are tied to a specific project proposal, and Justice has not indicated whether or not he will sign the bill into law — although it appears likely he will. State officials have been openly vying for a share of the billions of dollars for hydrogen hub project proposals included the federal bipartisan infrastructure law.

Lawmakers’ votes on the carbon sequestration bills represent a shift in West Virginia, one of the nation’s top coal producers, as state leaders seek cleaner forms of producing energy as a way to preserve the state’s roots. In the last year, the state has seen a slew of major announcements for alternative energy projects including green battery plants and a Warren Buffett-backed industrial park powered by renewable energy.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who is leading a nuclear reactor demonstration in Wyoming at the site of an existing coal-fired power plant, visited West Virginia just last week. He said he’s looking for sites to expand his efforts to the East Coast.

But the votes were also indicative of growing pains in a state that relied on coal production for over a century. Ruled by Democrats for decades, the state has since become home to one of the country’s most Republican-dominated state legislatures.

Money supporting future projects will likely see significant support from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act, legislation drafted by Sen. Joe Manchin, the only remaining Democrat holding statewide office in West Virginia. Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito voted in favor of the infrastructure law, but not the Inflation Reduction Act.

Before voting in support of one of the bills Thursday in the House of Delegates, Republican Del. Todd Longanacre asked colleagues to “proceed with caution.”

Longanacre said the current Republican supermajority legislature has been “the body to try to undo 90 years of Democratic policy in a state that had us at the bottom of the barrel economically.”

State GOP leaders have slowly started turning the state’s economy around, in large part due to policies that encourage economic development, he said.

“It could in fact create jobs, and we do in fact need employers in West Virginia,” Longanacre said of the legislation. “But I hope I will not regret voting for Joe Biden’s ‘Green New Deal’ just renamed policy that’s floating down here to our state.”

Democratic Del. Shawn Fluharty, one of only 12 Democrats remaining in the 100-member House, also said he’d be voting in support — but called out state Republicans in a floor speech to “give credit where credit is due.”

“I really want to thank those truly responsible — Democrats in Washington, D.C. — Joe Manchin,” he said.

“I want to make sure we thank Joe and not Jim,” added Fluharty, referring to the Republican Gov. Justice.

Fluharty said he expects to see a major announcement soon on a new economic development project involving carbon sequestration, but didn’t elaborate.

One bill headed to Justice’s desk would allow the state Division of Natural Resources to sell, lease or dispose of wildlife management areas and other state land in West Virginia that is not being used. The second allows for pore spaces beneath state land to be used for underground carbon sequestration. Pores are microscopic spaces between particles of rock or sand.

Before he voted Thursday against the bill in the House, Republican Del. Henry Corbett Dillon said he knows the interest the Biden administration has taken in decarbonization.

“This is just one more step in that direction,” he said. This is taking us down that green new energy trail. We have to decide as a House whether we’re gonna go down that trail all the way — I urge that we don’t do that.”

“I urge that we don’t look at the jobs and money and ignore that sometimes those come with other costs — long term costs,” he continued.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Protesters gather in front of police headquarters while marching Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Memphi...
Associated Press

Memphis police disband unit that fatally beat Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis police chief disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit on Saturday, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from newly released video that showed some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist. Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis acted a day after the harrowing video emerged, saying […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Australia mining company sorry for losing radioactive device

PERTH, Australia (AP) — A mining corporation on Sunday apologized for losing a highly radioactive capsule over a 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) stretch of Western Australia, as authorities combed parts of the road looking for the tiny but dangerous substance. The capsule was part of a device believed to have fallen off a truck while being transported […]
1 day ago
FILE - The Chinese Embassy is pictured in Tokyo on Jan. 11, 2023. China announced it was resuming i...
Associated Press

China announces resumption of visas for Japanese

TOKYO (AP) — China announced it was resuming issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning Sunday, ending its nearly three-week suspension in an apparent protest of Tokyo’s tougher COVID-19 entry requirements for tourists from China. The decision was announced in a statement posted on the Chinese Embassy’s website. China stopped issuing new visas in Japan on […]
1 day ago
FILE - Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi leaves the Conservative Party head office in Westm...
Associated Press

UK leader fires party chairman over tax bill allegations

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak fired the chairman of his ruling Conservative Party Sunday over a “serious breach” of the ministerial code. Pressure had been building on Nadhim Zahawi amid allegations he settled a multimillion-dollar unpaid tax bill while he was in charge of the country’s Treasury. In a letter to Zahawi, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey issues travel warning to Europe following protests

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey issued a travel warning late Saturday for its citizens living in or planning on going to European countries, citing Islamophobia and anti-Turkish demonstrations. The warning comes after last weekend’s protests in Sweden where an anti-Islam activist burned the Quran and pro-Kurdish groups protested against Turkey. The Turkish foreign ministry urged its […]
1 day ago
Oleksandra Hryhoryna inspects her house which was damaged by shelling last fall in Kalynivske, Ukra...
Associated Press

Russians gone from Ukraine village, fear and hardship remain

KALYNIVSKE, Ukraine (AP) — When night falls in Tatiana Trofimenko’s village in southern Ukraine, she pours sunflower oil that aid groups gave her into a jar and seals it with a wick-fitted lid. A flick of a match, and the make-do candle is lit. “This is our electricity,” Trofimenko, 68, says. It has been over […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
W.Va. bills pass on carbon sequestration, hydrogen hubs