Royal Dutch Shell’s giant petrochemical facility, which will “crack” natural gas molecules to produce a component for plastics, is also exposing a crack in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party. For some, like Peduto, the project is an environmental menace that undercuts the party’s climate change agenda. For others, like Shamp, it is a catalyst for a region’s economic revival and an opportunity to win over a white working class that believes Democrats have prioritized social issues over their financial prosperity.
With Pennsylvania expected to be a crucial battleground in the 2020 presidential contest, the local fissure is highlighting a national dilemma for the Democratic Party as it tries to address the environmental demands of liberal urban activists while reaching out to voters who rely on the manufacturing industry for jobs…
The petrochemical plant has become a political crucible. President Trump visited the Shell site in August, speaking for more than an hour while surrounded by construction workers and touting the complex as “one of the single-biggest construction projects in the nation . . . made possible by clean, affordable, all-American natural gas.”
For Trump’s political rivals, Peduto has upped the ante by tying his potential endorsement to where the candidates stand on environmental matters. He has reached out to the campaigns of former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg hoping that they back his vision for more government funding for green industries.