Abundant and affordable supplies of natural gas have revitalized America’s industrial heartland, ACC President and CEO Cal Dooley told business leaders, energy experts and policy makers attending the 11th Annual Indiana Conference on Energy Management sponsored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
The shale boom is driving American chemical manufacturers to create tens of thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs, making the U.S. more competitive and producing an unprecedented expansion of the industry, Dooley said.
And the drop in the price of natural gas has provided the U.S. chemical industry with a decisive competitive advantage in the cost of producing basic petrochemicals, as Dooley explained:
The chemical industry has gone from being the world’s highest cost producer five years ago to among the world’s lowest-cost producers today. For example, it costs less than $400 a ton to produce ethylene in the U.S. That compares to about $1,000 per ton in Europe and even more in Asia. This is great news for America—and Indiana, one of the nation’s top 10 chemical producing states.
After decades of decline, chemical industry employment is increasing and dozens of companies have announced plans to expand U.S.-based production capacity. ACC’s running tally of 124 projects—including more than 10 in Indiana—represents a cumulative announced investment of more than $83 billion. Roughly half of the investment comes from companies based abroad.
Much of the production of chemicals and plastics will be exported. In 2012, the chemical sector’s trade plus reached $800 million. ACC projects a quantum leap to $46 billion by 2020.
The chemical industry dynamo is projected to produce 310,000 jobs by 2020, according to an ACC report. Another 327,000 jobs could be created in the aluminum, iron and steel, metals, plastics and other industries.
Dooley cautioned, however, that these economic and job gains are not guaranteed.
Government policy decisions affecting natural gas production will help determine the long-term prosperity of the chemical and manufacturing industries.
ACC supports Indiana policies that encourage access to natural gas reserves on government and private lands and implement responsible state-based regulation of natural gas supplies.
Unwarranted and unnecessary regulatory restrictions on natural gas production threaten the expanded energy supplies that are growing American manufacturing, creating jobs and helping ensure a secure energy future.
ACC also supports efforts in Indiana to stretch our energy supplies by promoting the use of new energy efficient technologies in homes and schools, including such programs as the Indiana Office of Energy Development’s partnership with Energizing Indiana that have achieved remarkable energy savings.