It is possible Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is merely trying to put pressure on his state's legislators by warning them West Virginia and Ohio still are in the running for an ethane cracker plant. By reminding lawmakers the facility is not a sure thing, Corbett may be spurring them to approve a $1.7 billion incentive package to nail it down.
Earlier this year a subsidiary of the giant Royal Dutch Shell oil and chemicals company revealed it hopes to build a cracker plant near Monaca, Pa. Residents of our regions of West Virginia and Ohio had hoped fervently Shell could be convinced to bring the facility here.
But the company's initial announcement does not make Monaca a done deal. Shell said it would proceed with a land option agreement in order to continue evaluating the Pennsylvania site.
Company officials may have wanted to delay a firm decision until they see what happens with Corbett's proposal that Shell receive $1.7 billion in tax incentives. That offer dwarfed the incentive packages offered by West Virginia and Ohio.
This week, as some legislators balked at providing what they said would be the largest tax break in state history, Corbett warned that, "from what I hear," Ohio and West Virginia still are trying to lure Shell away from Pennsylvania.
Both states offered good, comprehensive packages to Shell earlier this year. And since March, when the company made its Monaca announcement, some of the wrinkles may have been ironed out of the West Virginia and Ohio proposals.
It is to be hoped that what Corbett is hearing is right. Economic development officials in our states should keep their teeth into Shell. One excellent point to be made by West Virginia is that our legislature approved cracker plant incentives quickly, while Pennsylvania lawmakers are continuing to bicker.
If Corbett is wrong, on the other hand, officials in our state should quickly move to rectify the situation, and stay in the game.