Corbett sees $1.7 billion tax break for Shell as key to new industrial base in Pa.

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett says doling out $1.7 billion in tax breaks to Royal Dutch Shell is a way to “build a new industrial base” in the Pittsburgh area.

    Corbett makes no apology for offering $66 million a year in tax breaks to a company that took in more than $30 billion last year.

    The Republican says his goal is to kick-start a chemical manufacturing corridor in Beaver County.

    He says Shell’s ethane cracker, which turns natural gas compounds into plastic products, would do that.

    “Shell is changing the dynamic of not taking all this gas to the south coast, to the Gulf Coast, and just turning it into ethane there and turning it into petrochemical plants there,” Corbett said Tuesday. “They are looking to build an industry here in southwestern Pennsylvania. So this benefits all of Pennsylvania.”

    In March, Corbett announced Shell was entering into negotiations with Pennsylvania.

    But this week, he acknowledged Ohio and West Virginia are still making offers to the company.

    That uncertainty has critics wary of this tax benefit, especially since the state has already offered Shell a 15-year tax exemption.

    Corbett says the $1.7 billion package wouldn’t kick in until 2017, but the deal’s specifics still haven’t been made public.

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