Reporting Andy Sheehan
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Governor Tom Corbett is making his first comments today about $1.6 billion in tax breaks he’s proposing to help bring Shell Oil’s new multi-billion dollar cracker plant to Beaver County.
The tax credits would benefit Shell and spinoff companies and Corbett says they are necessary, but critics call it “corporate welfare.”
An estimated 10,000 construction jobs, 2,000 permanent one and as many of seven times that in spin off companies.
The Shell ethane-cracker promises to spawn a whole new industry in southwestern Pennsylvania, but it comes with a catch – more than $1 billion in tax breaks.
Environmentalists are crying foul.
“Shell is not a struggling company. This is one of the biggest companies in the world. They make billions every year in profits,” Myron Arnowitt of Clean Water Action said. “Why does Pennsylvania have to give them another billion?”
Today on the radio, Governor Corbett says the breaks were necessary to win the plant over similar offers from West Virginia and Ohio.
“So what we’re doing is saying, ‘Build that here. Don’t build it in West Virginia which is not too far. It’s literally a stone’s throw from West Virginia and from Ohio,’” he said. “’Build it here you will get a credit. What we are looking for are the jobs.’”
“I think what the governor did was proper,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “I think he made a deal to try to get a lot of jobs into this commonwealth.”
Fitzgerald said in scale, the tax breaks are small compared to spin off industries the cracker is likely to spawn.
“Pharmaceutical plants, chemical plants, agricultural plants, etcetera are going to generate thousands of jobs for this region over 30 years and 40 years and they’re good jobs,” he said.
Still, a billion dollars plus to an oil giant won’t happen without protest.
“This is should profitable company. This should be a profitable plant,” Arnowitt said. “They’re going to make money off this plant if we give them zero dollars, so it’s really unclear to me why we need to give them more money.”