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To gauge the State of the Union, start with shale gas and American chemistry

In last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama seized the moment to connect the dots between abundant and affordable supplies of natural gas to manufacturing and jobs:

[quote]We have a supply of natural gas that can last America 100 years. And my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.[/quote]

Flash forward one year to the 2013 State of the Union. President Obama mentioned energy 18 times in his most recent address to the nation, with five plugs for natural gas alone. At the same time, manufacturing and jobs proved the centerpiece of Obama’s economic message — “our first priority,” he called it.

He also shared some good news about the economy. “After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three,” the president said. After years of sending jobs overseas, companies are bringing those jobs home, Obama added.

ACC agrees the U.S. has a huge opportunity to generate more jobs. Insourcing can replace outsourcing (and we’re seeing it already). But it’s critically important that policymakers remember why — chemical manufacturers are leveraging abundant, affordable supplies of natural gas from shale to drive a manufacturing renaissance, the benefits of which ripple throughout the economy.

Fueled by these supplies of inexpensive natural gas, U.S. chemical manufacturers have gained an enormous competitive advantage in the global marketplace, attracting new investment, boosting exports and giving life to as many as 400,000 American jobs. American chemistry is already the nation’s leading export sector, with $189 billion in exports in 2012 and potential for $58 billion in additional export growth.

Chemical manufacturers are keeping busy building new factories, expanding plants and restarting facilities. ACC estimates 70 new or expanding petrochemical projects around the country, valued at more than $55 billion. Many of these plants are in the Gulf States, but major facilities could also crop up in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio where shale gas supplies abound.

And whether your business depends on plastics, fertilizer, aluminum, glass, steel or any other industry chemistry touches, there should be plenty of cost savings to go around.

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