The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association has hired a new executive director to lead the industry group, as the state’s gas industry continues to grow.
The group has announced the hiring of Anne Blankenship, who currently is an attorney with Babst Calland in Charleston, where she focuses on environmental and natural resource law.
“WVONGA is thrilled to announce the hiring of Anne Blankenship as the organization’s new executive director,” said Maribeth Anderson, president of the WVONGA board of directors. “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.”
Blankenship will be replacing Steve Perdue, who took over as an interim director of the oil and natural gas association, after their former director Corky Demarco died in July.
“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.
Blankenship will take over as the executive director on Nov. 28, and will be tasked with representing the industry group as it continues to lobby for changes in state laws and as member companies continue to expand and explore shale formations in the northern part of the state.
In recent years, the industry has pushed for changes to gas leasing laws and drilling regulations, and likely will continue to have an influence on the West Virginia Legislature and state regulatory agencies.
That portion of the job will not be new for Blankenship. She previously represented WVONGA as its chief counsel, where she operated as a liaison between partnering companies and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
“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 has more than 15 years of legal experience in energy and natural resources law. She also previously worked as a lobbyist for the WVONGA and the West Virginia Manufacturers Association.
In the coming months, Blankenship said she will be working closely with the group’s board of directors to set their agenda for the coming years.
“My first goal is really to promote the industry and make sure it can thrive to its full potential,” she said.