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Pennsylvania Senate passes tax credit for petrochemical plants

| Saturday, June 30, 2012, 8:43 a.m.

HARRISBURG — The Senate on Friday night approved legislation to set up a state tax credit for a company considering building a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant in Beaver County.

Under the bill, approved 43-6, the credit would be available to Royal Dutch Shell plc and other so-called cracker plants and similar manufacturers willing to move to Pennsylvania.

House approval is required before Gov. Tom Corbett can sign it into law. The House was expected to begin debate last night.

Shell has an option to purchase land for the plant on the Center-Potter line off the Beaver Valley Expressway.

“This bill will help seal the deal,” said Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Beaver County. If Shell moves to the region, it would be the “largest economic development project in Southwestern Pennsylvania in more than a decade,” he said.

Corbett pushed for the tax credit to show Shell that Pennsylvania is serious about hosting the plant, which administration officials say could require 10,000 to 20,000 jobs.

Shell would be placed in a no-tax Keystone Opportunity Zone so most tax credits would likely be sold to companies doing business with Shell in Pennsylvania. The tax credits would be available in 2017.

Corbett initially sought an annual $66 million tax credit for 25 years, a total of $1.65 billion. The dollar figure was not placed in the final draft, meaning that the credits are unlimited and flexible.

The idea to not list a specific number came from Vogel, who sponsored a Senate bill.

Sen. Michael Stack, D-Philadelphia, said there was a lack of information about the plant's proposal. “What is the business offering? What is the commonwealth offering?”

“We think it's imperative we work with the industry developing in the southwestern part of the state,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills.

“It's an incredible opportunity for our state,” said Sen. Bob Mensch, R-Montgomery County. “This is not about ‘my district.' ”

“Pennsylvania has to be competitive in the international market,” Mensch said.

Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-Chester County, said he was opposed because it wasn't a statewide economic development program. Listening to the debate, however, he said he changed his mind and would vote for the bill.

Brad Bumsted is state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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