Energy Infrastructure Still the Economic Answer

Philadelphia-based, Braskem, one of the world’s leading petrochemical companies, recently opened location considerations for a polypropylene plant that would come with an initial investment of $675 million, 1,000 construction jobs, and another 50 full-time jobs to operate the plant.

Locations in Texas and Pennsylvania were discussed, with particular interest in the Marcus Hook area of Delaware County. Regrettably Braskem CEO Mark Nikolich chose Texas, lamenting “I was disappointed to choose Texas, but we had to choose the place where we had easy access to feedstocks. Decisions are already being made by businesses like ours to move elsewhere because it has not evolved in Pennsylvania fast enough, completely enough, through the entire logistics chain.

An economic study by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association (PMA) looks into the opportunity costs of losing projects like Braskem’s polypropylene plant. The public at large should note the following:

  • Anti-energy groups throughout the state like Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and others have cost Pennsylvania tremendous opportunities by making it difficult for infrastructure to be constructed.
  • Despite Pennsylvania’s growing pipeline network it is clear that full and necessary potential is not yet met.
  • Pennsylvania has the opportunity to branch out beyond natural gas and should welcome all energy infrastructure.

PMA found that each year of construction could create more than $200 million in economic impact for southeast Pennsylvania including as many as 100 indirect jobs spurred by the impact. Ultimately, PMA projected that in fewer than five years’ time a $1 billion could have been generated had Marcus Hook been granted the project.

To maximize its success and move the energy industry’s eyes away from the Midwest and Texas Pennsylvania must prioritize energy infrastructure. Though PMA notes “…without a business and regulatory climate that fosters this growth and accommodates the pipeline infrastructure development required to attract additional investment to Southeast Pennsylvania, the area may well remain unattractive to major investors for future projects such as this one.”