Ohio vs. West Virginia in the Cracker Plant Sweepstakes

West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio wait on pins and needles for Shell to announce which state they have chosen as a site to build a new $1.5-$2.0 billion ethane cracker plant, each of them looking for an edge to ensure their state is selected. WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is flying to Houston this week to meet with representatives of Shell to make a personal pitch that West Virginia should be that place, with a promise of no property taxes on the plant for 25 years if they do so. Thing is, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has already been to Houston to pitch his state—two months ago. Does that give Ohio an edge?

When West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin gets to Houston today to make his pitch for a Mountain State ethane cracker, he’ll likely find that Ohio Gov. John Kasich left his business card at the same office two months ago.

"We continue to work hard to make the case that Ohio is the best place for this facility," said Connie Wehrkamp, deputy press secretary for Kasich. "We never count our chickens before they hatch, however, and are working hard across the full range of possibilities to maximize shale’s benefit to Ohio."

Via legislation passed in both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature this week, the Mountain State plans to slash taxes for 25 years on machinery and inventory for any cracker facility that costs at least $2 billion to build. However, Wehrkamp said such a measure will only put West Virginia on equal footing with Ohio in terms of tax incentives.

If Tomblin meets with Shell officials at the headquarters of the firm’s Houston-based subsidiary, Shell Chemicals, he will find that Kasich has beaten him to the punch. Wehrkamp confirmed Kasich flew to Houston to meet with Shell leaders in November to "make a personal pitch" for Ohio to gain the ethane cracker.*

We’ve heard that Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey has also contacted Shell (see this MDN story), but no word on whether or not PA Gov. Tom Corbett will also make the trip to Houston in an attempt to attract the cracker plant to his state.

*The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (Jan 26, 2012) – Ohio Believes It Has Edge for ‘Cracker’