CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s U.S. senators have introduced legislation intended to help establish a major natural gas storage and distribution hub in the Appalachian region.

Their legislation would designate it a “critical energy infrastructure” project, which they say would make it eligible for expedited federal permits.

It would also direct federal agencies to expedite grant and loan applications.

Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito cite an American Chemistry Council study that an Appalachian hub could attract $36 billion in new chemical and plastics industry investment and create 100,000 new jobs.

Last month they urged the White House to examine the benefits of putting a natural gas liquid-storage and distribution hub in the region with growing but still underutilized reserves of underground natural gas.