An article in today’s The Observer Reporter reported on the Shell Cracker Plant in Beaver County, making a compelling case for energy infrastructure’s positive economic impact. Every ethane cracker built in Pennsylvania is an opportunity to benefit from our state’s natural resources. According to the IHS, the Appalachian basin could support four more ethane cracker plants. Each of those projects represents hundreds of jobs, billions in investment, and economic progress for Pennsylvania. If Pennsylvania built all four plants, Pennsylvania could truly become “a world class petrochemical manufacturing hub.”
This economic growth would not be limited to energy jobs and infrastructure investment. Ethane, the natural gas stored within the Marcellus Shale, is the building block of almost all consumer plastic products. As Shell said, “more than 70 percent of North American polyethylene customers are within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh.” If plastics were to be mass-produced in Pennsylvania, that would create a significant economic advantage for Pennsylvania manufacturing and employment.
And, as Nicole Jacob’s blog in Energy In Depth pointed out, “there is more than $23 billion in planned investment for more than 3,200 miles of pipelines planned or under development in the tri-state area.” That 23 billion investment translates to over 100,000 jobs for Pennsylvania residents. The Appalachian basin’s natural gas market is booming with economic activity. Infrastructure is growing, jobs are being created, and Pennsylvania is competing in the energy markets.