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Plant builders face long permit process in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Companies looking to build ethane crackers in West Virginia may have their work cut out for them with environmental regulators.

Crackers convert ethane, a common byproduct of Marcellus shale gas drilling, into an essential ingredient for the plastics industry. Several companies are planning to build them in Appalachia.

It might take a year or two to win permits from the Department of Environmental Protection because the plants could be considered major air pollution sources.

John Benedict, director of the DEP's air quality division, says the DEP is bound by federal regulations, so the state wouldn't be able to lower its standards to accommodate a developer.

He says the initial permit approval takes about six months, but it could take much longer. Public comment is part of that process.


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