Do you realize that the Mid-Ohio Valley, including West Virginia, is sitting on one of the largest oil and gas plays in the world? The opportunities on the horizon for the children of WV are truly exciting. Our area has some of the best resources, best waterways, good highways, great people, tremendous international export opportunities, and easy access to half of the population of the US.
The resources which will be provided through the careful use of the Marcellus and Utica shale plays present our state with a world-class opportunity. This is a truly a business game changer for not only the petrochemical industry, but also for all of us as we support the people who are building opportunities in our state.
Some experts project that by 2020, up to 40% of the US production of natural gas will be from the Mid-Ohio Valley. The US is already the top producer in the world of natural gas. I am not advocating that this ever happen, but in the future, if West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio together were a country, it would be the third largest producer of natural gas in the world, just after the US and Russia.
But, just as our past leadership in the coal industry has borne out, every possible safety measure must be in place for the protection of these hard-working men and women as well as for our communities in this inherently dangerous industry. Our state's natural beauty, water quality, clean air, and the safest possible work environments are just as important as our need to put food on the table.
So, I say let's seize the opportunity, do it right, and consider our people's total well-being first and foremost.