The schadenfreude that state Republicans expressed over West Virginia's failure to land the Shell chemical ethane cracker plant seems both untoward and premature.
With multiple players interested in developing cracker plants in the Marcellus Shale basin (including multinational companies like Brazil-based Braskem), this was never a one-strike-and-you're-out competition.
Privately, Tomblin administration officials had said that of the major players, Shell was probably the long shot at locating in West Virginia. Braskem supposedly is the more interested corporate player.
Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, may have said it best in response to the Republican outcry: If West Virginia's business climate really was so out of whack, its tax structure so uncompetitive, and its legal climate so litigious, Shell wouldn't have even considered West Virginia, let alone had the Hancock site as one of its finalists.
"You can believe what you want to believe," Swartzmiller said. "The fact is, Pennsylvania had a little bit more property available for future expansion."
Ironically, the Pennsylvania site was available because the location, a zinc plant, is being vacated as the company is relocating operations to North Carolina.
West Virginia's proposed site was landlocked because the adjacent property is "very much occupied" by a significant employer and revenue-producer for the state, Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino.
While Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney put out releases bemoaning how West Virginia had "lost" thousands of jobs and millions in investment, Swartzmiller didn't sound like a loser.
At the very least, he said, the plant will provide job opportunities to Northern Panhandle residents who will have a very short commute to Monaca, Pa.
"There's going to be a lot of people in West Virginia from the Northern Panhandle that are going to have jobs ... when that plant opens," he said.
Likewise, the real prize with a cracker plant is not the plant itself, but the plastics and polymer chemical plants that locate in the vicinity of the cracker. Swartzmiller noted that the Northern Panhandle, including the Hancock County site, will be very much in play for those investments.
It seems doubtful that the plant location issue will have "legs" for the Republicans through the general election.
With site evaluation and plant design expected to take a couple of years, there won't be any groundbreakings or ribbon cuttings in Pennsylvania to keep the issue in the forefront for voters this year.