But that’s only part of the story. In recent months, numerous chemical manufacturers have announced new investments thanks to the outlook for predictable domestic natural gas markets. For example, Dow Chemical Co. announced it will restart operations in facilities idled during the recession and Eastman Chemical Co. has already done so. Executives from Bayer are in talks with companies interested in building new ethane crackers at its two industrial parks in West Virginia, and other companies including Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. and LyondellBasell are considering expanding operations in the U.S.
These investments will generate new, high-paying jobs in the chemical industry and hundreds of thousands more throughout the economy.
A recent American Chemistry Council study found reasonable increases in shale gas production would result in nearly 400,000 new jobs in the chemical sector and supplier industries, more than $132 billion in U.S. economic output and nearly $4.4 billion in local, state and federal taxes annually.
But as anyone who owns a business knows, investment decisions are based on certainty and a positive view of the future. By injecting volatility into natural gas markets, policies such as the NAT GAS Act undermine the certainty chemical companies need to justify new investments and create jobs.
Our nation desperately needs a comprehensive energy plan that promotes all energy sources. Proposals such as the NAT GAS Act, which put investment, competitiveness and job creation in domestic manufacturing at risk, are not the answer.
Calvin M. Dooley is president and CEO of the American Chemical Council and a former Democratic Member of Congress from California.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.