A PTT Global Chemical spokesperson touted the company’s reputation in an October 27 Times Leader column as being environmentally friendly.
The Thailand-based corporation has eyes on Belmont County for a plastic cracker plant.
Being rated No. 1 in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in the chemical sector is hardly a reason for celebration. The chemical industry uses enormous amounts of energy (approximately 10 percent of global energy use) and relies on fossil fuels (fracked gas and petroleum) as feedstocks for their products.
The chemical industry is estimated to be contributing 30 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions currently.
If constructed, the PTTGC plastics cracker plant will be making single-use plastics. By 2030, the U.S. plastics industry will release more GHG emissions than coal-fired power plants.
These statistics only consider production and do not take into account the emissions that incineration of plastic wastes adds to the carbon budget of plastics.
The six gas furnaces and the cracker itself will be using ethane and methane obtained from high pressure hydraulic fracking.
This process releases significant methane emissions, a potent GHG that is 84 times as climate-warming as carbon dioxide.
Increasing methane emissions could jeopardize any hope of keeping our planet’s temperature to a 1.5 C threshold increase.
To claim a pledge of meeting a net-zero goal while continuing to rely on a highly polluting process like fracking is disingenuous at best.
Counting on carbon capture, a technology that has failed to deliver on promised goals, is a gamble for any company that really cares about the environment. You cannot claim to be worried about the health and welfare of the Ohio Valley residents and then emit volatile organic compounds like benzene, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde along with 2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
Words are cheap and promises of sustainability are just that … promises.
Randi Pokladnik, Ph.D. Environmental Studies