(This is a letter written by Matt Peters to PA Senator Bob Casey last week. We share it here with Matt’s permission.)
I had the pleasure of hearing you speak last night at the East End Brewery in Pittsburgh, and was heartened by what all you said. I couldn’t stay for the entire Q+A but wanted to follow up with some concerns that I have about what I feel is the most pressing threat to our regional air quality: the proposed Shell “Cracker” Plant in Potter Township, Beaver County, PA. Shell, one of the most notorious polluters in the petrochemical industry, wants to build an enormous facility on the banks of the Ohio River to turn fracked natural gas into throwaway plastic items. I am hard pressed to think of a more disastrous and short-sighted way to create jobs (although I’m sure the current occupants of the White House would be able to come up with something)!
I moved to Pittsburgh with my family in 1984 when my dad got a job at UPitt, from New Orleans LA, the area known as “cancer alley” for its concentration of oil and gas processing facilities, and I am deeply concerned that Shell seeks to turn the upper Ohio River valley into another such toxic and unlivable industrial hell. I feel very strongly that this proposed plant must be opposed by our elected leaders.
I believe there are alternatives to cracking the ethane molecule (the petrochemical equivalent of splitting the atom for nuclear power), such as industrial Hemp which was recently re-legalized last year in a bill signed by Governor Wolf. Making plastics from hemp instead of fracked gas would support our farmers, whereas continuing to rely on fossil fuels in this manner is in fact destroying the livelihoods of the farmers who comprise the state’s largest industry in terms of jobs for people and revenue for the state’s Treasury. In addition, construction of this plant would mean more pipelines, more fracking wells, and yes even more such facilities in our region, which as stated above would turn this area into another “cancer alley” of southern Louisiana/Mississippi River fame (or infamy). I urge you to recognize this disastrous pattern, and take a strong stand for clean energy, clean industry, and clean alternatives to petrochemical plastics. Our lives are worth so much more than throwaway plastic garbage! There is no bill before the Senate that I am aware of, but please do all in your power to avert this tragedy.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely, Matt Peters