Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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Letter: A Pathway to Environmental and Economic Wins

There’s a reason why President Trump visited Royal Dutch Shell’s petrochemical complex in Potter Township, Beaver County – he understands that the facility is going to be a twin victory: one for the environment and one for the economy.

The economic reasons are clear. Construction has been a massive job generator throughout western Pennsylvania. Local tax revenue opportunities have poured in, and a region down on its luck after the decline of the steel and manufacturing sectors has sprung back to life. Household energy costs are significantly lower, as are energy expenses for small businesses and manufacturers.

But equally important is that the facility will transform natural gas liquids into plastics, must-have materials if America is to continue its global leadership in environmental stewardship.

That’s because of this little-known fact: many of the materials we use to improve our environment include or are made of plastics.

Electric cars, for instance, require plastics like polyurethane or ABS – commonly made from refined fossil fuels – to replace traditional metals and decrease the weight of the vehicle, which increases their efficiency and range. For hybrid cars, it allows for better mileage by cutting fuel consumption.

The cracker plant, underscored by the president’s visit, is more than just a flood of hard-to-find economic opportunities. It’s a pathway to making the things we need for a better environment nationally and across the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Mike Butler