Corbett admin defends Shell tax deal, calls clean up cost reports false

After days of silence, the Corbett administration today denied reports that the state would cover clean up costs at the contaminated industrial site in western Pennsylvania where Shell Oil Co. wants to build an ethane plant.

“The report in the Harrisburg news service Capitolwire saying that the state agreed it would pay the cost of site clean-up is false,” said C. Alan Walker, secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, in a press release issued jointly with Michael Krancer, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Also today the Patriot-News of Harrisburg published Walker's defense of hefty tax breaks to Shell to build the Beaver County "cracker" plant that would convert natural gas into ethane used for an array of plastic products.

On the issue of the cleanup, Capitolwire reported that state officials told legislative leaders that the government would handle clean up of the still-operating zinc smelter site. Its owner Horsehead, has racked up numerous federal and state environmental violations and some experts suggest clean up costs could reach into the tens of millions.

DEP Secretary Michael Krancer said state law provides standards for proper clean up contaminated soil and groundwater. not money to pay for it.

“If the standards are met, DEP grants the landowner relief of liability for the contamination they have demonstrated they've cleaned up," Krancer said. "The private parties involved in any potential transfer or sale of land, not Act 2, determine who would pay for the cost of the cleanup.

In his op-ed piece in the Patriot-News, Walker called the controversy over the tax breaks for the $4 billion plant "manufactured" and said if it is built in Pennsylvania it would create tens of thousands of jobs and help solidify the new natural-gas driven "Industrial Revolution." 

He did not mention the cost of the tax breaks, reported by Capitolwire to top $1.6 billion over 25 years. Walker wrote that the plant would create up to 10,000 construction jobs and 20,000 "spin off" jobs. He did not mention how many direct jobs it would create at the plant if the deal is inked. 


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