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March 1, 2024 8:47 pm

Local News

Report: Shell Petrochemicals plant didn’t save Appalachia with plastics

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Danielle Smith, Public News Service

A new report says two economic-impact studies gave misleading information to Pennsylvania policymakers and residents about the economic advantages of the petrochemical complex operated by Shell in Beaver County.

According to the findings from the Ohio River Valley Institute, the plastics plant hasn’t brought the economic boom, and promised jobs haven’t materialized.

Report co-author Nick Messenger explained that the studies published by Robert Morris University were used to justify billions of dollars’ worth of tax incentives for the Shell project.

“This analysis had really been done honestly using a lot of Shell’s own assumptions, and this study really did that,” he said. “It made some assumptions that were pretty questionable, and that’s why they got a large over-estimate in the economic impact.”

He added that as the plant approaches one year of operations, some of the long-term employment opportunities have not been sustainable. The report found that since the project was first announced in 2012, Beaver County has lost nearly 10% of its jobs and more than 3% of its business firms.

Shell has not yet replied to a request for comment.

Messenger contended that the Shell plant negatively affects home values in Beaver County, and creates environmental health risks such as asthma. Residents also have reported concern over the environmental impacts of Shell flaring excess gas into the atmosphere.

“The plant has struggled to operate,” he said. “They came to a $10 million environmental settlement with Pennsylvania last year. They’ve exceeded their pollution limits, they’ve had to shut down production several times because of faulty construction, and just malfunctions in the facility.”

The report encouraged policy leaders in Pennsylvania and across the country to ask more difficult questions when economic analyses such as these are presented.

Shell aims to speed up the shift to a net-zero emissions energy business by cutting emissions from its operations and the energy products it sells.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.