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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

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

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Friday, January 26, 2024   

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.

Disclosure: Ohio River Valley Institute contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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