Corbett Touts Energy Jobs in Budget Address

  • Susan Phillips

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.

There were no mentions of Pennsylvania beating Texas to become the nation’s new “energy state,” but Governor Tom Corbett spent almost four minutes talking energy in Tuesday’s 2013 budget address.
Corbett praised the job-creation of Pennsylvania’s burgeoning energy sector, saying it resulted in “hundreds of thousands of new jobs.” But what Corbett didn’t talk about, was the cost of some of those jobs to Pennsylvania taxpayers, who spent millions to keep the Philadelphia area refineries alive.
[The “thousands of jobs” is a controversial figure because it includes indirect or ancillary industry jobs It comes from an industry sponsored study, and figures released by the Department of Labor and Industry. Others estimate lower job figures]
Corbett seemed optimistic about the fate of Shell’s proposed ethane cracker in Beaver County, which he said would generate “thousands” of new jobs. If it’s built, Shell’s plant would create 500 direct jobs. The “thousands of jobs” prediction comes from a study by the American Chemical Council.
The Governor spoke of helping Philadelphia area refineries avoid the scrap heap, including the purchase of a section of Sunoco’s Marcus Hook plant by the Brazilian petro-chemical company Braskem.

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Sunoco workers listen to Gov. Corbett at a press conference announcing their jobs would be saved.

“I will never forget the look on the faces of those employees at Braskem the day I visited in July,” said Corbett on Tuesday. “When they knew their jobs would be there tomorrow, they broke into spontaneous applause. With tears welling in the eyes of many, they knew it was more than a job. It was being able to continue providing for their families and loved ones.”

Braskem got $15 million from the Corbett Administration to keep the polypropylene plant open.
“In the southeast, three refineries survived almost certain closure when their owners, and most of the industry, had given up on them,” said Corbett in the budget address. “But we didn’t give up.”

In total, Corbett gave about $70 million in grants and tax breaks to industry to keep the Philadelphia area refineries humming. Delta Airlines got $30 million to take over the ConocoPhillips plant, and $25 million went to Sunoco and the Carlyle Group.
Corbett said at the time that the grants — which come with job-creation and investment conditions — are worth it. “When you’re looking at the investment you have to look at what it would have cost us had we done nothing, had we let these businesses go,” he argued during a press conference announcing the Braskem deal. “But also, by growing the business. Pennsylvania is, in my opinion, the energy state.”