CCJ now has permit trackers for the Shell cracker plant and Falcon pipeline

Posted May 8, 2020, by Ethan Story

Shell Falcon pipeline.jpg

Shell is building a cracker plant in Beaver County, PA due to the abundance of Marcellus shale gas found in the state. The Shell ethane cracker plant takes ethane, a component of natural gas, and creates ethylene with it. This is done by heating up the ethane until it breaks apart (or cracks) the molecular bonds that hold it together to form polyethylene.  Polyethylene molecules are then strung together, which is how plastic is created.

Part of this process is the transportation of natural gas to the cracker plant. Currently, Shell is constructing what is now known as the Falcon ethane pipeline system. This is a 97 mile, mostly 12-inch pipeline that will connect major ethane gas source points to the Shell cracker facility.

However, in the state of Pennsylvania, Shell must apply for and be approved for several different environmental compliance permits in order to develop both a pipeline and a cracker plant. Shell has and will continue to apply for these permits with the Department of Environmental Protection, who has set a series of compliance measures to ensure that steps are taken to both protect the public and the environment while such development is underway and during operation.

CCJ has developed permit trackers for both the Shell Falcon pipeline and the Shell cracker plant. This tool is an easy way to learn and understand what each permit is for and when it was approved. Both the pipeline and the cracker plant are still being built; therefore, this tracker is updated as Shell applies for and is approved for future environmental permits.


  • Ethan Story

    Ethan comes to CCJ with a J.D. and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. While attending Vermont Law School, Ethan worked as a Research Associate with the Water and Justice Program. In this role, he worked with diverse stakeholders to help protect their access to reliable, clean water. Ethan also interned with the PA Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Environmental Council, where he worked on issues ranging from coal and oil and gas development to water treatment facilities. He has been published on the subjects of public trust, water rights, and other environmental issues. When he is not at work, he spends time with his family, running, and fly fishing one of PA’s many beautiful rivers. Contact Ethan at ethan@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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