June 15, 2020 Read More →

Ohio River governors face ‘squandering’ hundreds of millions on plant

Columbus Dispatch:

Experts caution Ohio saying a proposed multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant may be a non-starter due to market conditions.

With the price of plastic plummeting and a global oversaturation of ethane-ethylene cracker plants and plastics manufacturing, experts are cautioning Ohio about moving forward with an ethylene cracker plant along the Ohio River in Belmont County.

State officials have touted the multibillion-dollar project, saying it would be Ohio’s largest economic development project ever. The plant would provide thousands of temporary construction jobs and a couple hundred permanent jobs.

But a group of eight economists, engineers, public policy analysts, and former policymakers — including researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Akron — have written a letter dated Monday warning the governors of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia that they are not likely to see a major petrochemical industry expansion in the region or the jobs they promoted.

 The governors risk “squandering” hundreds of millions of dollars, they warn.

“From a financial standpoint, I don’t think it’s prudent for them to move forward. I don’t know that (elected and state development officials will) necessarily agree with that,” said Kathy Hipple, a financial analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis who analyzed petrochemical plants across the country and co-authored a report about the feasibility of the project in March.

“You’ve got the input costs, which are low feedstock prices, but then you have plastic resins much lower on a price per pound than they were perhaps when they began thinking about this project. And there’s a tremendous oversupply of plastic,” Hipple said.

[Beth Burger]

More: Cracker plant won’t bring petrochemical jobs boom to Ohio, experts warn

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