Getting gas may be the best hope for Appalachia’s future as demand for coal declines. And the developer of a proposed underground storage facility for valuable natural-gas liquids and intermediates has been invited to submit a part II application for a $1.9-billion loan guarantee from the Dept. of Energy.

Construction of the Appalachia Storage & Trading Hub is expected to catalyze the creation of petrochemical investments with a value the American Chemistry Council estimates at $36 billion.

The Marcellus, Utica and Rogersville Shale methane deposits underlie much of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio and those resources are expected to supply a petrochemical industry that officials of the Appalachia Development Group LLC say will support more than 100,000 new, long-term jobs. The location, design, schedule and other details of the project are still to be determined.