SOTU: Energy and manufacturing a blueprint for a stronger union

In a video message previewing his State of the Union Address, President Obama said he’ll talk about energy and manufacturing as part of a “blueprint for an economy that’s built to last.” The President first linked these priorities at an “Insourcing American Jobs” forum earlier this month, where a White House report singled out shale gas for its potential to revive American manufacturing.

America’s chemistry industry agrees that this is a make or break moment for the country, and for the manufacturing sector. The decisions our leaders make today – the policies they put in place now – will determine our economic future for decades to come.

Our blueprint:

  • Encourage robust domestic energy development, while protecting the environment. When U.S. manufacturers are confident that energy will be affordable and available, they are better able to invest, expand and hire here at home.
  • Diversify energy supplies. A comprehensive energy policy strengthens national energy security and allows manufacturers flexibility in energy choices, giving them more ways to make their products. The strategy should include renewables, alternatives, coal, nuclear, and oil and natural gas production, particularly from revolutionary new shale finds.  Energy recovery is one innovative example of how we can take nontraditional sources of energy and convert them into new uses.
  • Give energy efficiency its due. Policies that boost energy efficiency in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors help stretch energy supplies and save money for businesses and consumers. These include adoption of strong energy efficiency building codes and energy-saving industrial technologies such as “combined heat and power.”

Fortunately, a golden energy opportunity is right under our feet. Natural gas from shale is a prime example of the homegrown energy the President wants America to use. It’s a game changer for manufacturers: As shale gas growth reduces prices and creates a more stable supply, it can rejuvenate the chemistry industry, strengthen U.S. manufacturing, expand exports and create jobs.

The economic benefits of shale gas can already be seen in the Appalachian region and the Gulf Coast, where chemistry companies have announced huge new investments in major manufacturing facilities.

None of this will be possible without reasonable regulations that allow for aggressive production in an environmentally responsible way. We support efforts to continually improve production processes, including the use of best practices. Chemistry makes many of these advanced production technologies attainable.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in his speech, the President will call for an increase in domestic oil and natural gas production, touting the economic and energy security benefits. That’s a welcome sign, especially following his decision last week to reject the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Energy has been a highlight of many past SOTUs delivered by Presidents of both parties. There seems to be an intuitive sense of the potential benefits for the nation if we get energy policy right – and the risks if we get it wrong. America’s chemistry industry and our more than 780,000 employees will be listening carefully tonight.

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