One of the best 2019 success stories for the energy industry in Pennsylvania – of which there are many – was the commissioning and operation of the Beaver County Shell Cracker Plant near Pittsburgh.
The plant is a multi-billion dollar project that refines and ‘cracks’ raw Marcellus Shale products that’re passed along to commercial and residential consumers for a number of uses. Moreover, the plant is a critical infrastructure component in delivering savings to Pennsylvanians.
President Trump even held an event on site of the plant to salute infrastructure buildout and the importance of the many union jobs supported through the Beaver County Shell Cracker plant.
Sadly, the most vocal opponent to the plant is Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto who openly campaigned against petrochemical plants in the region, declaring “I oppose any additional petrochemical companies coming to Western Pennsylvania,” and promised to send a letter to the Governor.
The many benefits, including a 6% county wide economic growth rate, of the project appear to have fallen flat on Mayor Peduto despite his own constituents benefitting most immediately.
Mike Butler of the Consumer Energy Alliance recently wrote to the Beaver County Times in hopes of having Mayor Peduto acknowledge the industry’s importance to the Commonwealth. Butler was quick to remind readers that transitioning to lean on natural gas as a primary electricity generation source can help lower emissions, noting “Pennsylvania’s transition to natural gas power generation has helped our state emissions decrease by 92 percent since 1990, providing a cleaner environment for us all.”
Natural gas has become an ever more important component of Pennsylvanian electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration Pennsylvania’s share of electricity generated from natural gas has more than doubled to 36% since 2010. As the state and private companies continue to invest in natural gas infrastructure emissions will continue to fall.
Further, these massive projects generate important job opportunities for Pennsylvania’s many unions, who typically sign project labor agreements into the hundreds of millions of dollars ahead of construction.
For those opposed to energy buildout in the state they must take serious consideration of the benefits the Shell Cracker Plant will offer not just in 2019 or 2020 but for decades to come as the Marcellus reserves are explored.