Plastic tax would be bad for everyone

As an elected official in the Northern Panhandle, I am always looking for ways to improve our communities and help businesses grow. We are facing tough times, but I believe we can overcome any obstacle.

Businesses are struggling to remain open, and the price of household items and groceries continues to skyrocket. During all of this, the Senate is debating the fate of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package and members are looking for ways to pay for that bill.

To help pay for the massive $3.5 trillion budget, some members are pushing a new tax. This tax would be levied on the manufacture of virgin plastics. This would have a negative impact on our manufacturers here in West Virginia that utilize plastics in their products. The very ethane produced here in the Marcellus and Utica shales is the basic building block of plastics like those that will be made at the new multi-billion-dollar facility across the state line in Pennsylvania.

These plastics are used in just about every sector of our lives, from plastic water bottles to car seats. Plastic is also used to wrap fruits and vegetables as well as meat and poultry. In short, it is in just about everything.

Imposing a 20 cents per pound tax on the manufacture of plastic will cause the cost of every item produced from plastic to increase by about 26 percent and that is yet another increase that would be shouldered by working Americans, the majority of which make below $400,000 per year. We need to do everything we can to help families stay afloat and passing regressive taxes on items they use each day is not the way to go.

We have worked long and hard in this state to encourage business growth, especially in the petrochemical field. Petrochemical jobs are high paying with good benefits. We need more in this area, not less and this tax would severely damage those efforts while we continue to work to foster growth in the Ohio River Valley.

Not only would this plastic manufacturing tax hurt future investment it would also cause job loss. Plastic manufacturing is a big part of our national economy, and this tax would ultimately result in the loss of about 90,000 American jobs. This loss would all come at the gain of companies located in other countries, countries such as China, which has much weaker environmental and labor standards, resulting in more damage being done to the environment.

This tax would not only force our plastic manufacturing jobs overseas to countries like China, but the U.S. would have to drastically increase imports of the material. Companies are not going to stop making items out of plastic because of this tax and instead they would just import the raw material from countries like China. So, we would still be buying plastic, but we would either be paying more for it, or we would have to watch our trade imbalance with China grow.

I hope our state’s delegation to Washington, D.C. will see the facts for what they are. This tax is not an attempt to protect our environment and reduce plastic waste. Instead it is a way to raise money for a $3.5 trillion budget by passing a tax that will land squarely on the backs of working Americans here in Hancock County and around the country. I ask that Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Shelley Moore Capito do whatever they can to make sure this tax is not passed.

(Eron Chek is a commissioner in Hancock County.)


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