It was officially announced earlier this year the Shell Chemicals will be building an ethane cracker plant in Potter Township, Beaver County. Long before the official announcement, there was lots of work going on. What used to be woods on my commute to work was stripped bare. I watched daily as hundreds of pieces of heavy machinery bulldozed then reshaped the land around the I-376 and Route 18 interchanges near Beaver Valley Mall. I learned all about logging equipment – I’d get to work and google to figure out the name of the machine with a 50 foot saw attachment. I saw semi after semi flying down the interstate, loaded with logged trees. The cracker site looked like the moon – completely devoid of any greenery, a far cry from the generally dense and colorful Pennsylvania landscape. I saw the landscape change also during my runs in Beaver. The view from River Rd (some of the most expensive real estate in Beaver County) is now mostly of the cracker site. The roads in Beaver County, particularly the bridges that connect Rochester and Monaca, are dense with 18 wheeled trucks that are covered in a thick black dust. They make the bridges shake like leaves under their immense weight loads. The Rochester roundabout is congested with large construction trucks that can’t fit through the tight bends. All of this in the name of progress – and I will agree that Beaver County could definitely use some progress. However, is this really the kind of progress we want? A heavily polluting plant sitting right on the river…a plant that will create 1.6 million tons of plastic per year. Plastic that will go on to further pollute the environment. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t care quite as much about plastic waste until the factory producing it came to my backyard. It is not ok with me that we pollute the air and river to create something that will eventually sit forever either in a landfill or an ocean. It’s not what I want for me, or my family. I’m glad that Beaver County has some hope again, I really am. I’m not glad that it’s in the form of plastic pellets and pollution.