Trump claims credit for Shell plant announced under Obama

  
Via:  john-russell  •  one month ago  •  4 comments

Trump claims credit for Shell plant announced under Obama
He was cheered on by fluorescent-vest-clad workers who were paid to attend by Shell, their employer, which is building the facility.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


MONACA, Pa. — President Donald Trump sought to take credit Tuesday for a major manufacturing complex in western Pennsylvania in his latest effort to reinvigorate the Rust Belt support that sent him to the White House. He was cheered on by fluorescent-vest-clad workers who were paid to attend by Shell, their employer, which is building the facility.

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Despite Trump’s claims, Shell announced its plans to build the complex in 2012, midway through President Barack Obama’s term in the White House.

The event was billed as an official White House event, but Trump turned much of it into a campaign-style rally, boasting of achievements he claims as president and assailing his would-be Democratic rivals for the 2020 election.

“I don’t think they give a damn about Western Pennsylvania, do you?” he prodded the crowd.


Trump was visiting Shell’s soon-to-be completed Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, which will turn the area’s vast natural gas deposits into plastics. The facility is being built in an area hungry for investment and employment, though critics claim it will become the largest air polluter in western Pennsylvania.

Trump contends that America’s coal, oil and manufacturing are reviving and he deserves the credit. He’s been focusing on his administration’s efforts to increase the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels in defiance of increasingly urgent warnings about climate change. And he’s embracing plastic at a time when the world is sounding alarms over its impact.

“We don’t need it from the Middle East anymore,” Trump said of oil and natural gas, proclaiming the employees “the backbone of this country.”


As for the new complex, he declared, “This would have never happened without me and us.”

Trump’s appeals to blue-collar workers helped him win Beaver County, where the plant is located, by more than 18 percentage points in 2016, only to have voters there turn to Democrats in 2018’s midterm elections. In one of a series of defeats that led to Republicans’ loss of the House, voters sent Democrat Conor Lamb to Congress after the prosperity promised by Trump’s tax cuts failed to materialize.

Today, the much of the area is still struggling to recover from the shutting of steel plants in the 1980s that sent unemployment to nearly 30%. Former mill towns like Aliquippa have seen their population shrink, though Pittsburgh has lured major tech companies like Google and Uber, fueling an economic renaissance in a city that reliably votes Democratic.


Trump claimed that his steel and aluminum foreign-trade tariffs have saved the industries and that they are now “thriving,” exaggerating the recovery of the steel industry, particularly when it comes to jobs, which have largely followed pace with broader economic growth.

Trump took credit for the addition of 600,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs. Labor Department figures show that roughly 500,000 factory jobs have been added since his presidency started.

Manufacturing has also started to struggle anew this year as the administration has intensified its trade war with China and factory production has declined. Pennsylvania has lost 5,600 manufacturing jobs so far this year, according to the Labor Department.

The region’s natural gas deposits had been seen, for a time, as its new road to prosperity, with drilling in the Marcellus Shale reservoir transforming Pennsylvania into the nation’s No. 2 natural gas state. But drops in the price of oil and gas caused the initial jobs boom from fracking to fizzle, leading companies like Shell to turn instead to plastics and so-called cracker plants — named after the process in which molecules are broken down at high heat, turning fracked ethane gas into one of the precursors for plastic.


The company was given massive tax breaks to build the petrochemicals complex, along with a $10 million site development grant, with local politicians eager to accommodate a multibillion-dollar construction project.

But “fracking for plastic” has drawn alarm from environmentalists and other activists, who warn of potential health and safety risks to nearby residents and bemoan the production of ever more plastic. There has been growing concern over the sheer quantity of plastic on the planet, which has overwhelmed landfills, inundated bodies of water and permeated the deepest reaches of the ocean. Microplastics have been found in the bodies of birds, fish, whales and people, with the health impacts largely unknown.

“Of all the things we could invest in, of all the things we should be prioritizing, of all the companies we should be giving our taxpayer money to, this seems like the worst of all worlds,” said David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment, a statewide environmental advocacy organization.


Trump defended the investment in plastics, claiming pollution in the ocean is “not our plastic.”

“It’s plastics that’s floating over in the ocean and the various oceans from other places,” he told reporters before boarding Air Force One.

A spokesman for Shell, Ray Fisher, said the company has “dedicated a great deal of time and resources” to ensure emissions from the plant meet or exceed local, state and federal requirements. “As designed, the project will actually help improve the local air shed as it relates to ozone and fine particulates,” he said.

The project currently has 5,000 construction workers. Once operational, however, the number of permanent employees at the site will shrink to 600.

The area still faces economic headwinds. The nearby Beaver Valley Power Station, a nuclear plant that has employed 850 people, has announced plans to close in 2021. And the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant, once the state’s largest coal-powered plant, announced Friday that it would close this fall, 19 months earlier than expected, at a cost of at least 200 jobs.

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JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    one month ago
Shell employees were paid extra to attend Trump speech in Monaco, Pennsylvania
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President Trump gets a thumbs up from Samantha Polizotto on Tuesday during his speech in Monaca, Pa. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Workers at a Royal Dutch Shell plant in Monaca, Pa., were forced to choose Tuesday between attending  a speech by President Trump  or forgoing overtime pay that their co-workers would earn.

Attendance was optional, but contract workers who chose not to stand in the crowd would not qualify for time-and-a-half pay when they arrived at work Friday,  the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  reported. Several companies with thousands of unionized workers have contracts with Shell, one the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

Workers at the unfinished Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex had to arrive at 7 a.m., scan their ID cards and stand for hours until Trump’s speech began, the Post-Gazette reported.

“NO SCAN, NO PAY,” a supervisor for one of the contractors wrote to workers, according to the Post-Gazette.

The contractor’s memo also banned yelling, protesting or “anything viewed as resistance” at Trump’s speech, the Post-Gazette reported.

“An underlying theme of the event is to promote good will from the unions," the document said, according to the Post-Gazette. "Your building trades leaders and jobs stewards have agreed to this.”

The Washington Post on Saturday was unable to immediately reach Shell or the plant’s unions for comment.

Trump has a long history of falsely claiming that liberal demonstrators have been paid to protest. When people angrily  flooded the streets  of some cities after Trump won the presidency, he accused them of being “professional protesters” who had been “incited by the media.” When  women protested  Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, he said they were “paid professionals.”

And when protests  bubbled up at airports  in 2017 in response to Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, he alleged that the demonstrators were “professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters."

Trump’s speech on Tuesday felt at times like a campaign rally, The Washington Post  previously reported.  Between remarks about U.S. energy production, Trump urged the workers to support his reelection and complained about a laundry list of his perceived enemies: the media, the Democrats running for president and the Academy Awards.

About 5,000 workers attended the speech, according to  Newsweek  magazine.

Shell spokesman Ray Fisher told the Post-Gazette that workers at the plant have a 56-hour workweek, which includes 16 hours of overtime pay — so workers who showed up on Tuesday were paid for the week at a higher rate.

Another Shell spokesman, Curtis Smith, told Newsweek that workers who chose to skip the rally received “paid time off,” which does not count as hours worked and therefore does not trigger overtime pay. Trump’s speech was treated as a training that differed from other training sessions only in that it included “a guest speaker who happened to be the President,” Smith said.

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A worker puts his head on a fence as Trump speaks. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

“We do these several times a year with various speakers,” Smith told Newsweek in a written statement. “The morning session (7-10 a.m.) included safety training and other work-related activities.”

Ken Broadbent, business manager for the union Steamfitters Local 449, told the Post-Gazette his workers respect Trump for his title, regardless of whether they liked or disliked him. Anyone who did not want to go to work on the day of Trump’s speech could skip it, Broadbent said.

“This is just what Shell wanted to do and we went along with it,” Broadbent told the Post-Gazette.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/17/trumps-speech-shell-plant-drew-thousands-workers-they-were-paid-extra-be-there/

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2  seeder  JohnRussell    one month ago

Buying "friends". 

 
 
 
MrFrost
3  MrFrost    one month ago

Trump? Take credit for something he didn't do? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, I just cannot believe that stupid fuck would do something like that!!!! [eye roll]

Watch...after three years of claiming that he fixed the economy that wasn't broken when he took office slips into a recession, it will be everyone else's fault, not trump. 

 
 
 
cjcold
4  cjcold    one month ago

“not our plastic.”

Not my president.

Just as with air pollution, water pollution is a global problem.

Trump is just too ignorant and too stupid to grasp the concept.

 
 
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