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Highlights from the field hearing “Natural Gas – America’s New Energy Opportunity”

We’ve compiled some highlights from the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Field Hearing on “Natural Gas—America’s New Energy Opportunity: Creating Jobs, Energy and Community Growth,” which took place earlier this week.

You’ll see that access to vast new supplies of domestic shale gas, rich in the ethane needed for chemical production, is revitalizing the chemical industry and America’s manufacturing base. Many U.S. chemical companies have already announced plans to build new plants, restart facilities or make new investments along America’s industrial heartland, producing billions in needed revenues for struggling economies.

Many of the panel witnesses in this hearing focused on the potential benefits for one struggling U.S. state in particular: Ohio.

Roland Taylor, Jr., Business Manager, United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 396
Shale production is paving the road to economic recovery for the Mahoning Valley region, which includes Youngstown, Ohio, Taylor explained during his testimony. Since 2008, new projects in the area have generated $1.5 billion in investments, 5,098 new jobs and helped abate the loss of 7,840 additional jobs, Taylor said. In addition to increasing the number of jobs currently available, job training is also ramping up in the area, and Local Union 396 has ramped up apprenticeship and welder certification programs. The educational focus is helping to recruit college students from around the region while aiding displaced workers and veterans that are trying to get back on their feet.

Jack Pounds, President, Ohio Chemistry Technology Council
Growth in Ohio’s chemical industry has been slow to stagnant in recent years as a result of unpredictable feedstock and energy costs, Pounds noted. But affordable, abundant supplies of natural gas from shale can help lower these costs, and provide a much-needed boost to the industry. In his testimony, Pounds cited a 2011 ACC economic analysis, which found that a new ethane cracker in the region could:

  • Produce $4.8 billion in additional chemical production;
  • Create 17,000 new jobs in the state;
  • Add $600 million in new payrolls, and $170 million in new tax revenues for Ohio governments; and,
  • Provide 2,500 existing polymers (plastics) businesses with a reliable, competitive, and nearby supply of the ethylene needed to create the basic building blocks of chemical products.

Dennis Heller, President & CEO, Stephenson Equipment, Inc., Associated Equipment Distributors
Heller spoke about the impact of shale on Stephenson Equipment, a business that sells and rents construction equipment and provides crane service, parts and operator training in Pennsylvania and New York. In 2010, the company’s revenues were $61.4 million; in 2011, they had jumped to $73 million, largely as a result of increased shale production. Today, nearly 10 percent of the company’s workforce holds a job related to Marcellus Shale gas development, Heller said.

Heller also referenced an Associated Equipment Distributors survey given to fifteen equipment companies in Ohio and Pennsylvania. 93 percent of respondents claimed that a portion of their 2011 revenue was directly or indirectly attributed to shale gas production, and the average shale-related revenue was $25.4 million per company.

View All Witnesses Testimonies

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