Fracking for Plastics

Illustration of leaking oil derrick dropping plastic bottles into water with a dead bird floating

About the Fracking for Plastics Series

Fracking continues to open up a huge supply of oil and gas in America, and investors are looking to create a new market for some of those fossil fuels, including so-called “natural gas liquids,” close to the Marcellus and Utica shales. 

As a result, companies have begun pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into creating a new petrochemical corridor in the Ohio River Valley and expanding a heavily polluted corridor along the Gulf Coast known as “Cancer Alley.” The wave of construction plans means fossil fuels from fracked wells will increasingly be turned into plastics, petrochemicals, and other consumer products.

This is a DeSmog investigation into the proposed petrochemical build-out in the Ohio River Valley and the major players involved, along with the environmental, health, and socio-economic implications. We’ll explore the claims of how clean and safe the American chemical industry really is, health risks for chemical industry workers, the bait-and-switch argument that bills fracking as moving the U.S. toward energy independence rather than plastic dependence, and the groups involved in pushing for and against stronger health and environmental regulations of this industry.

In This Series

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Citing design changes, Shell Chemical Appalachia has asked Pennsylvania’s state regulators to issue air permits that would allow the company’s massive plastics manufacturing plant under constructio...
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During a congressional hearing Tuesday, a plastics industry executive echoed a common refrain from the industry: “Plastic saves lives.” However, for many communities of color living in close proxi...
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A plume from the Texas Petroleum Chemical (TPC) plant hung over Port Neches, Texas on Thanksgiving as emergency workers continued to fight the fire following explosions at the plant on November 27....
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A plan to build a natural gas–fueled petrochemical plant in Kalama, Washington, ran into a new legal hurdle last week, as a coalition of environmental groups raised new objections to its constructi...
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For the past 42 years, the Beaver County Conservation District in western Pennsylvania has hosted their Maple Syrup Festival, an annual all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast featuring syrup made from m...
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Tomorrow, June 6, in Covington, Kentucky, a routine quarterly meeting of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), an eight-state compact responsible for setting water pollution ...
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The plastics industry plays a major — and growing — role in climate change, according to a report published today by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). By 2050, making and disp...