American Chemistry Council President and CEO Cal Dooley discussed the enormous advantages that shale gas has bestowed on the U.S. chemical industry and America’s manufacturing sector in a wide-ranging interview with E&ETV, a cutting-edge webcast featuring analysis from energy policy leaders.
Asked about the projections for economic growth and new investment in a recent IHS report, Dooley said it shows the U.S. chemical industry is expected to enjoy “a sustained competitive advantage” for 30 years, in stark contrast with other regions. According to IHS projections, U.S. chemical and plastics production will soar by almost 200 percent by 2020, while Western European chemical manufacturers will see production drop by one-third, Dooley said.
ACC data show the chemical industry has opened the investment spigot. Dooley told E&ETV:
About three years ago I was on this program, we were talking about projections of $16 billion in new [chemical industry] capital investment. In May of this year we released a study where we were talking about $74 billion in new investment, and today we’re up to $86 billion in new capital investment in chemical manufacturing in the United States.
Much of the chemical industry investment is flowing from companies based in Europe, Brazil, India and Japan, Dooley added, “because they know that we have a 30-year supply of natural gas and natural gas liquids that are available at $4 per million BTUs.”
Dooley called robust and affordable supplies of natural gas “a once in a lifetime opportunity,” not just for the chemical industry but for the broader manufacturing sector and the American people. The IHS report shows that the increased production of natural gas will generate almost $3,500 in savings for the average American family by 2025, Dooley added.
Asked whether strict regulation of shale gas could stymie IHS and ACC’s encouraging projections of economic and job growth, Dooley emphasized the need for “a regulatory environment that allows us to maximize the production of natural gas and other fossil-based fuels in the United States.” He added:
We need to fully commit ourselves to developing our natural gas and fossil fuel resources on public as well as private lands. We need to ensure that we’re sending the [appropriate] signals on tax policies, such as accelerated depreciation that will ensure that we’re making those investments in a timely fashion to capitalize on this tremendous opportunity.
The chemical industry’s investments would ripple through the economy, Dooley noted. The $84 billion investment will boost U.S. GDP by almost $60 billion a year and translate into as many as 320,000 additional jobs and $14 billion in new federal and state tax revenues, he said. Yes, natural gas really is a “game changer,” Dooley said.
ACC supports the development of a comprehensive national energy strategy that maximizes all domestic energy sources including renewables, alternatives, coal, nuclear and oil and natural gas production; prioritizes greater energy efficiency in homes, buildings and industrial facilities; and employs economically sound approaches to encourage the adoption of diverse energy sources, including energy recovery from plastics and other materials and renewable sources.