Beaver Cracker Plant Exploits Region for Profits

By Terrie Baumgartner

Nora Johnson’s Aug. 3 letter honestly and courageously voiced my thoughts and those of hundreds of other Beaver Countians before even getting to how Shell Chemicals’ ethane cracker will impact the region.

Air and water contamination cross borders and, with 1,000 frack wells per year needed for its feedstock, so will the cracker plant’s impact on health as well pads, compressor stations, pipelines, etc., proliferate across the region.

Fracking is linked by over 1,000 studies to increased risk for asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, birth defects and endocrine disruption; yet, even as Ohio rejects our fracking wastewater, four more cracker plants are planned to turn the Ohio River valley into a vast petrochemical/plastics-manufacturing hub that will resemble the sweeping expanse in Louisiana known as “cancer alley.”

This is happening because an industry clinging to fossil fuels in the face of climate change has convinced Wall Street that it can reap huge profits from ethane as a waste product of fracking — regardless of how our region is exploited to the detriment of our health to meet market projections for Asia. Over-investment in fracking infrastructure cannot be redeemed by a new Cancer Alley. And as for what the cracker would produce, many may need plastic bumpers for cars, but we do not need – as China rejects our plastic trash and scientists find microplastics in our blood – more single-use plastics.

Four hundred permanent jobs may fall to locals in exchange for the $1.6 billion in tax breaks lavished on the world’s fourth-richest corporation, but New York is promising 40,000 jobs for a $1.5 billion investment in renewables. Four hundred for $1.6 billion or 40,000 for $1.5 billion? We can do better.