Appalachian Basin

Belmont County Official: The Sierra Club Doesn’t Want to Give Appalachia a Chance

Moments after Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced he is “extremely hopeful” that a final investment decision for a world-class petrochemical ethane plant will be officially announced this year, the ultimate out-of-touch fringe environmental activist group immediately put out a press release bashing a project that would bring up to $10 billion of investment and thousands of jobs to eastern Ohio.

Based solely on the fact that the facility would “use fracked gas to make plastic,” the Sierra Club is calling for the project to be stopped in its tracks, an extreme measure that would rob Appalachia of any hope of the economic prosperity it so desperately needs. In response, the people who actually live in the region the Sierra Club is targeting are firing right back.

Belmont County Port Authority (BCPA) Executive Director Larry Merry told EID,

“Most of the Sierra Club leaders I know were given a sock full of money from their trust funds and billionaires in California, and now they don’t want any of the rest of us to have anything in Appalachia. They don’t want to give us a chance. They are trying to convince people that this is the first cracker ever built in the United States. The Sierra Club is insane. Freedom of speech is one thing; freedom to spread lies is another.  This project can be done safely and it will be done safely. The truth is, the community is 100 percent behind this project and we aren’t going to let the Sierra Club or any other activist groups come in here and tell us we can’t have a shot at this historical region-changing event.”

Not surprisingly, the Sierra Club pulled some clichéd talking points straight out of the “Keep It In the Ground” playbook to justify its call to stop the project, claiming the string of multi-billion investments in the region will lead to a “cancer alley” for “toxic air pollution.” It even went so far as to claim that the petrochemical project would cause “fires, explosions, and other large-scale disasters.” Merry went on to tell EID,

“When I think of the Sierra Club, they must live in an imaginary world. I know of no world that exists without the need for fossil fuels or condensates that support plastics. What they want to see is no transportation, no products, no food, no jobs, no money— that’s the world they are talking about.”

It is important to note that prior to shale development, eastern Ohio was looking at double-digit unemployment, cash-strapped school districts and county governments that would have surely filed for bankruptcy had it not been for oil and natural development. But none of these facts matter to the Sierra Club, as it looks at what has been a solution for all of these issues as nothing but a “bad idea” for the people of eastern and southeastern Ohio.  The good news is that the people who live in the Buckeye State are not listening to the Sierra Club, as anti-fracking groups have had no traction in the state due to the fact that shale is not only jumpstarting Appalachia, but “a new dimension of Ohio’s economy.” 

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