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Ohio Governor DeWine Worried But Optimistic About Cracker Plant

Photo Provided – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine talks with the Times Leader and other media across the state during an online session Friday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine is “more than a little bit” worried about the future of a proposed ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, but he remains optimistic that the project eventually will be completed.

DeWine sat down with The Times Leader and other newspapers across the state on Friday afternoon to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, capital punishment and a variety of other issues of interest to Buckeye State residents. Asked if he was concerned about whether the PTT Global Chemical America project will become a reality, he said some companies in the natural gas and oil industry are “pulling back, so that worries us a little bit — more than a little bit.”

But despite the fact that PTTGCA has announced it will delay its final investment decision indefinitely due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, he added that his office’s company contact on the project has never waivered regarding PTTGCA’s commitment to the plan.

“They’ve not told us that they’re pulling back,” he said. “It’s just been the opposite. …

“This could be, and we think it is, a huge game changer in Belmont County. But it’s not just Belmont County, it’s the whole region, because of other businesses that will spring up once they’re moving forward. It’s big. It’s a big deal.”

DeWine said he and other state leaders are doing all they can to encourage PTTGCA to locate in Eastern Ohio.

Regarding the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, DeWine said he is most concerned about how the illness will spread during the next three months. He pointed out that with nearly 12 million residents, it will take a long time for all the people of Ohio to be vaccinated against the disease and said that December, January and February will be particularly dangerous as people congregate indoors where the virus can spread more easily.

Although the governor said priorities for the state’s vaccination program are still being set with medical health care workers and the elderly in congregate settings at the top of the list, he stressed that there are things we call can do to help contain the virus. He said if people take individual responsibility for their actions that will help keep children in school, help save people in nursing homes and prevent hospitals from becoming overcrowded.

DeWine said there is little evidence of spread in schools and workplaces and shared two basic rules that he said people should follow:

“One is if you’re eating with someone and you don’t live with them, you shouldn’t be eating with them. If you’re drinking with someone and you don’t live with them, you shouldn’t be drinking with them, because you can’t wear a mask when you’re drinking or eating. … ” he said. “Number two, if you’re around anybody that you don’t live with … you need to keep a distance and you need to have a mask on.

“If we could do those two things, we would knock this virus down. We would knock it down to a manageable level, and it’s not manageable today and we’re pretty scared about where we are today.”

In terms of lessons learned from the pandemic so far, the governor said there are two things we must never do again: allow public health systems to be neglected as they have been in the past or allow the nation to be so completely dependent on China for personal protective equipment or other strategic supplies. In fact, he said he is working with JobsOhio to ensure that at least some PPE is produced in Ohio as the nation moves forward from the pandemic.

On the topic of capital punishment, DeWIne said the state’s hands are currently tied when it comes to performing executions. Ohio law allows just one method of execution, he said, and that is lethal injection. But DeWine said the drugs used in those injections are not available and, when they are found, the manufacturers are threatening legal action if the state uses them for capital punishment.

Rather than focusing on capital punishment, though, DeWine believes it is more important to remove violent, repeat offenders from society. He said that will cut down on crime and save lives.

Later Friday, DeWine announced reprieves that will delay three executions that had been scheduled for 2021.

Issues that DeWIne said will remain among his top priorities for 2021 are police reform with better training and more accountability for law enforcement officers; legislation to deter distracted driving and saves lives on Ohio’s roads; his Strong Ohio gun control package that was introduced in 2019 but has not moved through the General Assembly; early childhood development and education; and the H2Ohio 10-year plan that aims to reduce harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie.

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