For manufacturers, natural gas is a new lease on life
The last few years have marked an incredible turnaround for the American economy, especially its manufacturing sector. The newfound availability of abundant and affordable natural gas has helped fuel that renaissance, breathing life into manufacturing, construction, jobs, and long-term growth.
Recently, manufacturing executives -- who have seen much of this change first-hand – gathered in Washington to testify before two House Energy & Commerce subcommittees.
Their testimony reflected the hope of an industry that has begun to see new injection of energy into everything from steel to chemical production -- reinvigorated by dependable natural gas feedstock.
Drew Greenblatt, the president of Marlin Steel Wire Products, is seeing industry return to the Rust Belt in ways that were unimaginable even a few years ago:
"There's a new steel pipe plant being built in Youngstown, Ohio. When was the last time a steel mill has been built in Youngstown, Ohio? Something is going on, and it's great. We should be embracing it."
Others, including Sasol, an energy and chemical company based in South Africa, are bringing operations to the U.S. and expanding their previously conservative U.S. market presence.
This growth is proof that the natural gas boom is having a clear and direct impact on the jobs and economic growth in U.S. manufacturing.
Though hopeful, all the testimony reinforced the need for a balanced and sensible approach toward natural gas exports. According to Paul Cicio, president of Industrial Energy Consumers of America:
"Doing it right can be a win-win for producers and consumers of natural gas," Cicio told the panel. "But rushed reviews or excessive approvals would result in spiking prices and "an end to the manufacturing renaissance."
We cannot risk our growth now – we have come a long way so far, but we have a long way to go before we reach our potential.