June 12, 2019
Good news: There’s an important amendment to a Department of Energy spending bill moving in the U.S. House that could help stop the dangerous buildout of a toxic, climate-killing petrochemical and plastics production hub in the Ohio River Valley.
The triple threat of gas, petrochemicals and plastics happening in Appalachia
Currently the Trump administration is pushing a large-scale petrochemical buildout that unsurprisingly aligns with wishes of major corporate donors. As we speak, investors are pouring billions of dollars into the Ohio River Valley region of Appalachia to create a cluster of gas, petrochemical and plastics infrastructure that would prop up the faltering fracking industry and turn the region into the next Cancer Alley.
A main element of this buildout is the Appalachian Storage and Trading Hub (“Storage Hub”), which would be sited in the Tri-State region of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia - or possibly in Kentucky. The facility would provide a steady stream of ethane, a natural gas liquid and key feedstock to petrochemical and plastics production, to nearby plants. It would serve as a central trading post for fracking companies looking to sell their polluting natural gas liquids.
And here’s the catch: The company behind the Storage Hub is seeking a $1.9 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy - from we the taxpayers - to prop up its dangerous project.
Leave U.S. taxpayers out of fracking's deadly gamble
However, the Storage Hub does not meet the required criteria for such a loan, as outlined in Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act (42 U.S.C. § 16513). That is because Title XVII loan guarantees are designed to fund energy projects that “avoid, reduce or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic [human-caused] emissions of greenhouse gases.” This filthy storage complex clearly doesn’t qualify.
The Storage Hub may be a profit bonanza for the involved industries, but it is a pollution pitfall for communities and ecosystems of the Appalachian basin. Converting the region into the second-largest plastics and chemical manufacturing zone in America will compound the Tri-State region’s already substantial exposure to fracking and industrial toxic emissions, while increasing plastic materials that largely end up polluting the Earth’s oceans.
Moreover, the fracking industry needs the Storage Hub: An overproduction of natural gas has created a gas glut that greatly outpaces domestic demand. By building the Storage Hub and petrochemical facilities that rely on natural gas, frackers can keep drilling and cement us into a disastrous fossil-fueled future.
The government’s Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program was created to foster innovative clean energy technology that will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The Storage Hub project is neither innovative nor clean.
A new amendment from Omar and Jayapal could jam the gears of the fracking industry's plans
Thankfully Reps. Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal just introduced an amendment to next year’s Department of Energy funding legislation clarifying that funds in the Title XVII program can only be used for energy projects that “avoid, reduce or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.” If this amendment is added to the bill and becomes law, it would effectively prohibit DOE from issuing loan guarantees for the Storage Hub, thereby successfully jeopardizing its future.
We must do all we can to ensure that Congress supports this important legislative amendment that could kill the dangerous Storage Hub once and for all. Sign on below to tell Congress to leave the taxpayers out of the fracking industry's schemes.