Appalachian Basin

Make No Mistake, Ohio Remains Poised for Manufacturing Development

In an increasingly partisan world, there is one facet most Americans have in common: a desire for a thriving local economy. For Ohioans, that shared goal is attainable because of the state’s (and region’s) abundant energy supply.

The Appalachian Basin, nicknamed the “Shale Crescent” region of the United States as it overlays the prolific Marcellus and Utica Shales, produces 85 percent of the nation’s natural gas supply. With that supply comes cleaner air, higher paying jobs, increased tax revenue, and an invitation for new business development.

Anti-industry activists, however, are trying to question the feasibility of such opportunities and push a fringe, outside the mainstream perspective to keep this abundant resource in the ground. After years of failed attempts to prevent new shale development in Ohio, these activists – in some cases leveraging the recent economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic – have set their sights on the downstream market.

In recent years, that downstream sector has attracted additional investment as our affordable natural gas is a valuable feedstock to manufacturing end-use products. PTT Global Chemical, with partners Daelim Industrial Co., have been considering a multibillion-dollar investment in Belmont County, Ohio to be the new home of a large petrochemical complex.

The PTTGC plant is poised to invest nearly $10 billion in the local economy, permanently employ roughly 500 high-skilled labor workers and generate millions in additional tax and school funding per year. These benefits would add to similar impacts coming from the Shell petrochemical plant under construction in nearby Beaver County, Pa.

While environmentalists hope the companies will get cold feet in Belmont County, it’s worth noting they have already spent nearly $200 million in preparing the site and obtaining permits.

In fact, a senior project manager for PTTGC said just last month:

“We have all of our permits. We have all the things that we need to date. If we wanted to start construction this afternoon, or start development tomorrow, we can do that.”

A Coordinated Effort to Prevent Downstream Investment

It’s no secret America’s natural gas and oil industry is frequently targeted by activist groups, but a closer look at those groups – particularly their funders – reveals a never-ending cycle of large foundations opening their deep pockets to drive a false narrative about shale development.

Examine further and you will find the media outlets reporting these stories are often financially tied to the same “specialists” conducting studies and issuing reports. It’s an echo chamber of large foundations paying for research – sometimes conducted by researchers with affiliations to the foundations – that is then amplified by organizations and a section of the media that also receive funding from these foundations like, for example, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Park Foundation and the Heinz Endowments.

Large, established foundations such as the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Park Foundation will find subject matter experts (most of which are card-carrying members of the foundations’ affiliates) to organize studies that advance the ‘keep it in the ground’ movement’s goals.

For instance, last month’s story advancing the anti-energy and manufacturing jobs narrative pushed by activists in InsideClimate News – an outlet that has admitted to its bias against safe, responsible American energy development – failed to generate further media attention. In response, StateImpact PA, whose mission is to “cover the fiscal and environmental impact of Pennsylvania’s booming energy economy, with a focus on Marcellus Shale drilling,” recycled the article. It should be noted that StateImpact lists ICN as a partner organization.

The story comes as no surprise as the organization itself has proven – and even admitted to – its bias against safe, responsible American energy development.

The proposed PTT Global cracker plant and subsequent facilities would be a game-changer for the Ohio Valley region. At a time where the global economy is under enormous pressure and the importance of plastics has been thrust to the forefront of minds, the continued investments made in infrastructure like this are even more crucial.

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