Groups form American shale, manufacturing partnership

A diverse group of associations from various industries, universities, and consumer organizations launched the American Shale & Manufacturing Partnership to seek government policies that facilitate instead of discourage US shale energy resource development.

“The dream of bringing manufacturing back to the United States is very real, but it requires our government developing policies that encourage growth instead of putting regulatory policies that encourage growth, instead of putting regulatory barriers in the way,” said Charles T. Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, one of the partnership’s 15 charter members.

“Energy development is the key not only to a manufacturing revival, but to a strong economy and, ultimately, our national security,” he told reporters during a Nov. 19 briefing that included representatives of five other stakeholders.

“The confluence of emerging technologies and new domestic energy options such as shale gas can fundamentally transform American manufacturing,” added Matthew Sanfilippo, senior executive director of research initiatives at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering, who also participated.

“To realize this potential, we must craft new models of collaboration among research universities, industry, labor, state and federal government, and the environmental community,” he maintained. “That is exactly what we are starting today.”

ASMP’s primary purpose is to remind policymakers that decisions that could stifle shale oil and gas resource development might arrest a growing, but still fragile, general economic recovery, other panelists noted.

Millions of new jobs

“Shale energy has created more than 2.1 million jobs in communities across America, with another 1.25 million new jobs expected over the next decade,” said Karen A. Harbert, president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

“In addition, shale energy will generate more than $2.5 trillion in new tax revenue between now and 2035, with more than half going to states and localities,” she continued. “That makes shale energy truly a game changer for the American Economy, and it is why the Chamber is working to ensure these opportunities become reality.”

National Association of Manufacturers Pres. Jay Timmons noted that US manufacturers represent a third of total US energy demand and need affordable and reliable sources to stay globally competitive.

“The shale revolution is a game-changer for manufacturers that drives job creation, but overreaching laws and regulations at any level could slow this energy revolution and—in the worst case—stop it,” he warned. “The wrong policies will deny Americans and our economy the promise of reliable and secure energy. The right policies will spur economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness for years to come.”

Walter W. Wise, general president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers, said, “It is critical that the opportunities created by gas are compounded to deliver a reconstruction of our manufacturing base that will produce good community-building jobs, reduce trade deficits, and enhance our nation’s competitiveness and security.”

Heavily regulated

Shale gas development will help domestic specialty chemical manufacturers become more globally competitive and maintain their role as innovation leaders, according to Lawrence D. Sloan, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Associates. “Our members are already highly regulated,” he said. “We need to have in Washington a body to look at all these regulations and see which aren’t necessary.”

Other panelists said that proposed federal regulations potentially could duplicate or override state-level requirements which already work well. “In some instances, we want to see things done,” said Timmons. “In others, we’d like to see government get out of the way.”

Panelists noted that the US House was expected to consider two bills later in the week—HR 1900, which would put a 12-month limit on the time the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could spend reviewing a gas pipeline project application; and HR 2728, which would prohibit federal regulation of fracing—which would be constructive if signed into law.

“Let the states keep doing what they’re doing well,” Harbert suggested. “We don’t want to skirt environmental regulations, but we need to make agencies do their jobs within a reasonable timeframe…. This is the economic stimulus package. We have the opportunity to increase employment in it in the next 10 years. We want to show a united front to all the people who are making decisions.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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