The shale gas revolution is not only fueling a boom in the drilling industry. It’s also feeding a spinoff industry in chemicals that are made from natural gas. And the Gulf Coast—home of the country’s original shale gas experiment—may hold clues for understanding what lies ahead for Pennsylvania. Shell recently announced it will build a multi-billion-dollar petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania. And what that will mean for our region in terms of jobs, economic development and impacts to air and water quality is yet to be seen. In our series The Coming Chemical Boom, we travel to Texas and Louisiana to see exactly what fracking’s powerful second act looks like—and how Pennsylvanians can prepare.
Shell’s $6 billion ethane cracker in Beaver County could be the first of several large chemical plants in the region. That’s because there’s enough ethane being produced to provide the chemical industry with the raw material without any additional drilling.
It's not every day that a major corporation agrees to move an entire community out of the path of pollution from one of its facilities. But a retired Louisiana school teacher was able to get Shell to do just that.