It's 'cooked air'
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With respect to your editorial "No Shell Game" (June 22), I could hardly disagree more.
It's not clear that government enticements have ever led to long-term employment. (Debunking of this idea has been published in your own pages.) But as yet there is no deal even on the table: Shell has committed nothing but a small "option" payment on the Monaca site, while Gov. Tom Corbett heaps up the goodies.
Shell hasn't even made suggestions about "jobs"; the dreamy "jobs" forecasts come from politicians and trade groups, with no skin in the game, who gain from the speculation. Their estimates -- hundreds, thousands, tens-of-thousands -- are, as a German physicist used to say, "cooked air": the output of incomprehensible calculations performed upon incredible assumptions. You strain journalistic ethics to parrot their numbers in your editorial, when you could not possibly check their legitimacy.
We agree about one thing, however: Tax breaks to Shell encourage drilling in the Marcellus Shale. You've put your finger on the Corbett administration's precise purpose, and one which will be to the great sorrow of Pennsylvanians. A state subsidy on Shell's purchase of ethane is a pure price-support for "wet gas" -- that is, for local drilling which would otherwise be unprofitable in today's energy market. It is another give-back, channeled through Royal Dutch Shell, to the governor's benefactors in the fracking industry.
Not only does Marcellus Shale drilling destroy our health and our environment, we are now to be taxed in order to make it happen.
JOHN S. DETWILER
The writer is a retired business strategy consultant.
First Published June 26, 2012 12:00 am