Aug. 28 letters to the editor

Plastics industry a bad
deal for West Virginians
Rebecca McPhail of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association (DP-Sunday) touted development of a proposed Appalachian Storage Hub (ASH) for natural gas, and a plastics industry in West Virginia, but never mentioned the most serious problems.
In 2015, almost every nation on Earth signed the Paris Climate Agreement, committing these nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below 2 C. Most scientific organizations agree this means we must drastically reduce use of fossil fuels. The world must reduce emissions from fossil fuels by 50% within 10 years, and almost quit fossil fuels within 30 years.
Construction of a large plastics industry is fundamentally incompatible with that goal. Yet none of the ASH proponents will discuss this issue, or even admit it’s real. None of the major investors in the ASH or proposed plastics plants include greenhouse gas mitigation in their business plans.
Most state political leaders advocate federal subsidies to help build the ASH. But no one will talk about the greenhouse gas issue, or even plan for it.
Plastics plants create more demand for fracking and natural gas wells, pipelines and related facilities. These all emit methane, and some emit a lot. Methane is 84 times more effective at capturing heat than carbon dioxide (over a 20-year life span).
Ethane crackers also use tremendous amounts of electricity, most of which is expected to come from fossil fuels. It’s expected that the plastics industry will account for one-sixth of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by 2050.
Most importantly, investments in fossil fuel infrastructure slow the transition to sustainable, renewable energy sources.
McPhail did acknowledge worldwide opposition to more plastics littering the landscape, but proposed nothing to increase, or mandate, plastics recycling. She also failed to discuss air pollution from such facilities, and the host of adverse health impacts they cause.
We urge West Virginians to contact our congressional delegation, and ask them to oppose federal subsidies for the ASH. Until that industry addresses greenhouse gas pollution, eliminates all emissions of toxins and carcinogens, and accepts its responsibility to recycle plastics, a new plastics industry is a bad deal for West Virginia.
Jim Kotcon
West Virginia Chapter of Sierra Club

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