West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, joined by leaders in the natural gas and chemical industries, announced last week the formation of the Marcellus to Manufacturing Task Force, intended to harness the business opportunities surrounding the development of the Marcellus Shale.

Tomblin said the task force is being created to research and develop potential economic development opportunities related to Marcellus Shale and natural gas byproducts such as ethane and ethylene.

“The environmentally responsible manner in which the extraction of natural gas from Marcellus Shale occurs will bring countless jobs to West Virginia,” Tomblin said. “In addition, if we can feasibly develop thermal or steam crackers to make use of the ethane and ethylene associated with gas, we will have a great opportunity to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector. I have asked this task force to look at all of the possibilities and identify how we can take the expansion surge from the natural gas industry to positively impact our chemical and manufacturing industries.”

Tomblin requested the task force to:

Task force members are:

The group will report its findings to the governor on a semiannual basis. Each member will serve a three-year term.

Government officials in the state have been looking for ways to help spur investment in the natural gas industry. The Marcellus Shale Gas and Manufacturing Development Act, introduced Feb. 8 by West Virginia state Sen. Brooks McCabe (D-Kanawha) and a dozen of his colleagues, contains several incentives, including a tax break for natural gas fueling stations (see related story).

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