Ensure Cracker Details in Place

Marshall County officials are beginning to get excited about a possible deal with Appalachian Resins to build an ethane cracker somewhere in the county.

“It is not a done deal, but it is moving very quickly,” said Don Rigby, executive director of the Wheeling-based Regional Economic Development Partnership.

Let us hope local folks are not moving so quickly they make the same mistakes and oversights made in Beaver County, Pa., last year. Despite claims by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who offered Shell Oil Co. a potential $1 billion tax break package, a Shell ethane cracker near Monaca is not a sure thing. Shell has yet to acquire the land for this facility from Horsehead Corp.

Among concerns for Shell is the upcoming Pennsylvania State Supreme Court decision on whether Act 13 can restrict local governments from zoning drilling operations.

Legal wrangling now has Corbett explaining a six-month extension of the purchase agreement for the site by saying lawyers are merely “dotting I’s and crossing T’s.” Corbett has also begun to let the word “if” creep into discussions about the cracker.

Appalachian Resins Chief Executive Officer James Cutler has been quoted as saying he believes construction on a Marshall County facility will begin by the end of this year, with the plant going online before the end of 2015.

In the meantime, Marshall County and West Virginia officials should be looking into every possible legal nook and cranny for obstacles to the project. Hopes for 125 jobs and $500 million in investments are too important to be dashed by a failure to meticulously examine every detail.