Pittsburgh makes bid to become a plastics hub

Pittsburgh, known globally as the Steel City, now wants to be known as the Plastics City.

The shale gas explosion is turning one of the buckles of the Rust Belt into a potential boom town. The city is virtually the capital of the Marcellus Formation, a huge area of cheap, accessible natural gas reserves that spans much of the Appalachian region in western Pennsylvania, western New York and West Virginia.

How big is this?

CONSOL Energy Inc. announced Oct. 28 that it will sell its pioneering coal business and one-time corporate soul so that it can enhance its mushrooming production of Marcellus gas. Pennsylvania is offering Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's biggest oil company, at least $1.65 billion in tax credits to build a major chemicals cracker in nearby Monaca that will use shale gas as a feedstock. Timing of the project is under review. IHS projects a 14% growth rate in jobs in the Pittsburgh area as a result of the shale gas boom.

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