The Youngstown Vindicator: Portman promotes industry at V&M

March 28, 2011 | Portman Difference

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said serving on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources will allow him to help Congress “create an environment” that lets companies like V&M Star continue to thrive.

He said he will oppose imposing onerous environmental rules that could hamper progress and growth in natural-gas drilling and industries in the Valley.

V&M is building a $650 million expansion near its plant on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It is expected to open next year.

The company chose the Mahoning Valley location for the expansion “not only because of the development of the Marcellus Shale gas reserves but also because of the knowledge and skill set of our Youngstown employees and the extraordinary cooperation we received from local, state and federal officials,” said Joel Mastervich, V&M Star’s president and chief operating officer in a prepared statement Friday.

Among those who helped V&M move ahead with the expansion, the company has said in the past, are Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and ex-Gov. Ted Strickland, all Democrats.

Portman, a Republican, toured V&M Star’s operation Friday. It was his first visit to the plant as well as the first time Portman has come to the Mahoning Valley since he began serving in the Senate last month.

There is great potential for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, a rock layer that is under several states including Ohio and Pennsylvania, Portman said.

There is also great potential to drill in the Utica Shale, a rock layer below Marcellus, he said.

“We need to make sure, in my view, that the [Environmental Protection Agency] doesn’t put onerous new restrictions to keep us from being able to explore and then actually drill and use natural gas,” Portman said.

“It’s great for jobs here in the Mahoning Valley, and it’s also great for our country’s energy security and national security because it enables us to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”

V&M produces seamless steel tubes for the gas and oil industry.