Corbett, lawmakers say deal reached on Shell tax credits

Posted: June 21, 2012

HARRISBURG - With the clock winding down toward the General Assembly's summer break, Gov. Corbett made his biggest public push yet to line up legislative support for his plan to bring a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant to Western Pennsylvania.

Flanked Wednesday afternoon by two dozen supporters of the plan, including Democratic and Republican lawmakers and labor and business leaders, Corbett urged the General Assembly to approve a $1.65 billion economic incentive package to seal a deal with Shell Chemical L.P. that he said will "reindustrialize" the state.

"We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring a project to Pennsylvania that will be the single largest industrial investment in the state in more than a generation," Corbett said at a Capitol news conference. "We are investing in a new industrial revolution and we are investing in the opportunity for thousands of Pennsylvanians to have a good job."

By Wednesday night legislative leaders, in effect, answered his call. At a joint news conference with Corbett to tout progress on budget negotiations, they said they had a deal on tax credits for Shell that would be approved before the summer break.

Corbett's proposal calls for Shell to receive $66 million a year in tax credits over 25 years, beginning when the so-called "cracker" plant is scheduled to open, in 2017. Neither the governor nor legislators were offering details Wednesday night of whether the numbers had changed in budget negotiations.

The budget deadline is June 30. After that, the legislature typically breaks for summer.

The Shell plant, to be built in Beaver County, would turn by-products of the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling into ethylene - which is used in plastic products ranging from tires and shoe soles to carpet backing and soft-drink bottles. The plant is projected to create 10,000 temporary construction jobs and employ 400 full-time workers.

State and industry sources predict as many as 17,000 spin-off jobs would be created in related industries across the state. The facility and related industries are predicted to generate as much as $400 million in federal and state tax revenue, not counting the reductions for the proposed Shell tax credits.

Corbett brushed aside critics' suggestions that the incentive package - which also includes a 15-year tax exemption via a state-sponsored Keystone Opportunity Zone - amounts to corporate welfare.

He said the incentives are needed to ensure that Shell locates in Pennsylvania - in a historic manufacturing region that lost tens of thousands of jobs with the collapse of the steel industry - and not in neighboring states or elsewhere.

"For the general public, that might be hard to understand because ... they think we're giving money to them," said Corbett. "No, we're not. What we're saying is, 'You build it. You provide all these jobs for all these people and we'll take a little bit less money from you so that we have more money for us.' "


Contact Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or aworden@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @inkyamy.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|