By CASEY JUNKINS
WHEELING, W.Va. - Anne C. Blankenship knows she has big shoes to fill in replacing the late Corky Demarco as executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, but she believes her experience as an attorney working in the areas of energy and the environment should come in handy.
After Demarco's untimely death in July, the association's board officially hired Blankenship to assume the post on Nov. 28.
"The shale revolution is positively transforming the areas where gas development is occurring as well as benefiting the entire state through job opportunities, taxes and economic impact," Blankenship said.
"I look forward to building on this momentum by helping facilitate the responsible growth of the industry."
Blankenship, an attorney in the Environmental Services and Energy & Natural Resources practice groups of Babst Calland in Charleston, brings nearly 15 years of energy and environmental experience her knew position.
She has provided legal counsel to major industry trade associations and energy companies on environmental issues, as well as represented their interests before the West Virginia Legislature, state agencies and regulatory bodies.
Blankenship graduated from Marshall University with a degree in biological sciences in 1997, while eventually earning a master's degree in this field in 2005. She collected her law degree from Capital University in 2002.
"I'm excited to represent West Virginia's oil and natural gas workers, the companies they represent and the promise this industry holds for growing jobs and economic development in the state," Blankenship said.
Maribeth Anderson serves as a spokeswoman for Southwestern Energy Co., as well as president of the WVONGA board.
"Anne has a deep background in law and environmental regulations, and is a skilled communicator. She's built a career in West Virginia and understands the landscape, and she has worked with companies investing in the shale revolution in the state. She is focused on making sure our industry reaches its potential in raising the economic tide for all of West Virginia," Anderson said.
While serving the association, Demarco saw West Virginia's annual natural gas production grow from less than 100 billion cubic feet per year in 2002 to more than 1 trillion cubic feet in 2014, as the Marcellus and Utica shale boom led to changes in the nation's energy portfolio.
These formations, as well as the Rogersville Shale located in Southern West Virginia, leave the state with plenty of potential to set more oil and natural gas production records.