KYW Regional Affairs Council
“The Delaware Valley Unrefined”
By David Madden
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The shutdown of two oil refineries in recent months has taken its toll (see related story), but it’s the third potential shutdown, of Sunoco’s facility in South Philadelphia, that could well trigger a major hit to the regional economy.
Gov. Tom Corbett fears it could do to southeastern Pennsylvania what the collapse of the steelmaking industry did to Pittsburgh in the ’70s.
Some believe it wouldn’t be quite that bad, but state officials insist he’s got a point.
A recent study from Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry paints a worst-case scenario if both Sunoco refineries and the ConocoPhillips plant close: 36,000 jobs could be lost in all kinds of fields.
“Those industries that had been in business with the refineries, that business is lost, so they’re going to have a loss in income. Those employees may be laid off as well,” says Pennsylvania labor and industry secretary Julia Hearthway (right).
The hit to the regional economy could reach a half-billion dollars, although the overall economic recovery and efforts to transition affected workers into other jobs — including a recently awarded $5-million federal grant (see related story) — will likely soften the blow.
Local tax bases would also be affected, perhaps none worse than the one facing Marcus Hook, the tiny Pennsylvania town that depends heavily on earned income taxes from the now closed Sunoco plant.
Marcus Hook mayor James Schiliro says his town is losing about $700,000 a year now.
“Next year I’m going to have to look at my police force, because my police force is my biggest budget, and the library as well,” Mayor Schiliro (right) tells KYW Newsradio (see related story).
Of course, all this could change if someone takes over any or all of the refineries in one form or another (see related story).
Listen to the Part 3 podcast…