Thanks to natural gas development, Beaver County can be “proud of our past, but confident in our energy future,” Dan Camp, chairman of the Beaver County Board of Commissioners testified today before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Camp, the youngest county chairman in Pennsylvania, highlighted the economic benefits that natural gas development has delivered to Beaver County, noting that the county’s potential for continued growth in good-paying, family-sustaining jobs “stems in large part from the economic opportunity the Marcellus Shale presents.”
Beaver County will be home to the Shell Polymers plant, a facility that will convert the region’s abundant natural gas liquids into the building blocks necessary to make every day plastics. Currently there are more than 3,500 construction workers, including many union, on site building the facility that represents the largest manufacturing investment in the region in a generation. As Camp testified:
“Shell’s decision to build this complex in Beaver County was a major coup not only for Beaver County, but the entire region…. There are currently 3,700 workers on site, and the impact on our regional skilled labor workforce has been incredible. The site currently supports hundreds of electricians, pipefitters, ironworkers, carpenters, laborers, equipment operators, and other craftsmen….
Infrastructure has also improved in and around the construction site. New roads and repaving of existing roads are directly attributable to the cracker plant.
…Once the plant is operational, we anticipate additional growth in the manufacturing sector as our region becomes attractive for companies seeking to locate in close proximity to the abundant supply of polyethylene produced here in Beaver County. In turn, we hope to see expansion in the professional services that support it as well, such as engineering, architecture, etc.”
In addition to highlighting the long and short-term benefits of the polymers plant, Camp also acknowledged the benefits of the state’s unique natural gas tax – the impact fee – for communities.
“In addition to the bills of dollars in bonus and royalty payments to Pennsylvanians who leased their property for natural gas extraction, in 2012, the Pennsylvania General Assembly imposed a special tax on the industry, an “impact fee,” which is paid annually by unconventional natural gas producers for each well drilled.
…All told, between allocations to the county, municipalities and impact fee-funded project grants, Beaver County has received $5 million for use in public infrastructure improvements, emergency preparedness and response, environmental protection, social services, parks and green spaces and tax reduction.”
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