Lawmakers briefed on Gov. Tom Corbett’s package of financial incentives for a planned petrochemical refinery in western Pennsylvania said Friday that it could also include the cost to clean up pollution from the zinc smelter that has operated there for decades.
The revelation by two state senators is the latest about Corbett’s negotiations on the facility with Shell Oil Co., a subsidiary of Netherlands-based oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC.
The Republican governor’s administration has shared with the public sparingly those plans on what lawmakers say would be the biggest package of taxpayer-paid incentives in Pennsylvania’s history for a project being billed as the reindustrialization of the state.
Two senators briefed on the project, Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna, and Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria, said the project deserves serious consideration. Blake cautioned that the Corbett administration must show that the cost of the incentives must match the potential economic benefit to the state.
The projected multibillion-dollar ethane cracking plant would convert ethane from the area’s bountiful Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids into more profitable chemicals such as ethylene, which are then used to produce everything from plastics to tires to antifreeze.
Blake said the administration’s financial incentive plans for Shell revolve around a recently disclosed tax credit worth up to $1.65 billion over 25 years and a newly created tax-free zone for the site that the Legislature approved in February.