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Gas boom could help southern West Virginia

Nov. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

BECKLEY, W.Va. -- Wyoming County and West Virginia are expected to boom economically in the next few years due to the extraction of natural gas from the Utica shale formation, according to officials.

West Virginia Association of Counties and WVU Extension Service brought together numerous people from across the state recently to discuss the economic potential for West Virginia.

"Wyoming County has been, for several years, the largest natural gas-producing county east of the Mississippi," David "Bugs" Stover, Wyoming County circuit clerk and a past president of the West Virginia Association of Counties, told those participating. "But recently we have watched all our rigs head north into Marcellus shale country.

"The gas (industry representatives) pointed out that the Utica shale play was already starting up and that Wyoming County has Utica," Stover said after the meeting.

"We are talking an energy boom as large as the one in the Middle East and, in a couple years, coal will rebound -- first, as a major export. West Virginia already doubles any other state in coal exports," Stover said.

"We have to get this one right -- economically, politically, and environmentally," Stover emphasized. "If it gets extracted, we need to get more than a wage. We must wisely become an economic power in the world.

Economically, Stover believes, the severance tax coming into Wyoming County from this gas will provide "any infrastructure we need."

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