Shale gas fueled a boom in the drilling industry and has provided cheaper fuel, displacing dirtier coal to generate electricity. It’s also feeding a spinoff industry in chemicals. Shell is building a multi-billion-dollar petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania that will turn natural gas into the building blocks of plastic.
Many hope that this is just the beginning. They want more ethane crackers, plastic manufacturers and other industries that will transform the Ohio Valley into a petrochemical corridor, bringing jobs and investment. Others, including residents and public health advocates, fear pollution, cancer and other health effects and say the climate impacts from these facilities will be devastating.
We’ve been covering this transformation to learn what it means for our region in terms of jobs, economic development and impacts to air, water quality and health. Stay tuned.