Also this week…

by Dee Fulton on January 28, 2012

Steam cracker plant, Saudi Arabia

Tomblin woos Shell Executives; Pennsylvania drafting their own tax break bill

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin met with Shell executives in Texas on Thursday to promote West Virginia as the place to build an ethane cracker plant with his newly inked 25 year tax break bill in hand.  See web story on CBS Moneywatch. That bill flew through the Legislature faster than green grass goes through a goose.

But will this legislation prove to be the incentive needed to lure a cracker plant to West Virginia?  It’s been estimated that WV taxpayers will be handing Shell half a billion dollars in what otherwise would have been county revenues if a steam cracker plant comes to WV.  If the cracker plant doesn’t come to WV, the headlines relating to the effort to recruit a cracker sure make for good political theater in an election year anyway.

A headline appeared in the Youngstown newspaper The Vindicator on January 12, 2012 that confidently declared: “Shell project to remain in Ohio”.  In that article:

The water port was reportedly a nonnegotiable requirement. That’s why experts have pegged Southeast Ohio or Southwest Pennsylvania — locations with direct access to a prime water port, the Ohio River — for Shell’s expansion.

Terry Fleming, executive director of the Ohio Petroleum Council, an industry trade group, said,“If I had to guess, it’s really coming down to Ohio and Pennsylvania.”

The governor of Ohio, John Kasich,  made the trek to Houston to make the case for a cracker in Ohio in November, 2011.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, SB 1237 is moving forward and is expected to be voted on in February.   Per the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

Billion-dollar investors would get an extra five years of no taxes, and manufacturing and processing businesses would get new breaks on state corporate income and capital stock franchise taxes. The benefits would easily be worth millions of dollars to Shell, political officials and experts said.

Obama promotes natural gas expansion in State of the Union

Ken Ward’s post (Jan. 25) in Sustained Outrage contains the text from the State of the Union address that relates to Obama’s plug for expansion of natural gas and provides a counterpoint.  Bottom line – it’s too late for us to burn carbon-based fuels in the face of catastrophic climate change, and natural gas (methane) is a carbon-based fossil fuel just like oil and coal.   The planet needs to direct efforts toward renewable, non carbon-based energy.  The talk of ‘clean natural gas’ and ‘bridge fuel’ is alluringly misleading.

Frack or Frac?  What’s in a Word?

I think the horse is out of the barn on this, but the Associated Press is debating whether or not to use the word “frack”.  These days the industry prefers to spell the word “frac” as in “frac job”.   Frac or frack is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing, of course. The AP story printed in the Gazette mentions that the industry itself used the word on occasion in the 1980s.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

RD Blakeslee January 28, 2012 at 10:43 am

“The planet needs to direct efforts toward renewable, non carbon-based energy. The talk of ‘clean natural gas’ and ‘bridge fuel’ is alluringly misleading.”

“Alluringly misleading” is the implication that “the planet” can live today without bridge fuels and provide adequate amounts of energy from “renewable non carbon-based” sources. In the first place, all known technologies which don’t burn fuel of some sort have adverse environmental impacts unique to each. Secondly, an all-out effort to deploy these technologies today would cause real hardship everywhere as we tried to live without adequate transportation, space heating, electrical appliances, etc.


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