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New Partnership for Oil and Gas Shale Drilling and Manufacturing

A new partnership has been formed in the energy industry that may benefit shale oil and gas drilling in Texas: the American Shale and Manufacturing Partnership. The member organizations include manufacturing, labor, environmental, academic, and business organizations. It was launched November 19, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The goal of the new group is a renaissance in American manufacturing, and to remind policymakers that hindering the development of shale oil and gas could hamper an already fragile economic recover in the United States.

Charles T. Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a member of the new partnership, said: “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 barriers in the way.” Matthew Sanfilippo, senior executive director of research initiatives at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering, noted that new technologies and domestic energy options like shale gas can transform American manufacturing.

Shale gas has created 2.1 million American jobs already, and it is expected to create another 1.25 million in the next ten years. Tax revenue from the industry is also expected to total $2.5 trillion by 2035 according to the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. These statistics demonstrate why shale gas is so critical for manufacturing, especially due to job creation. “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,” said Walter Wise from the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers.

Some related industries, like the chemical manufacturers, explained that they are already heavily regulated and that policymakers should take a closer look at which regulations are truly necessary and which are burdensome to the domestic specialty chemical industry. A topic of concern for the members of the new partnership are the federal regulations being added on top of current state and local regulations, causing duplications or even negating state regulations that already work well.

“Let the states keep doing what they’re doing well. 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,” noted Karen Alderman Harbert from the Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

In terms of involvement with the federal government, two bills are being considered in the U. S. House of Representatives that the partnership thinks may be positive developments One is HR 1900, which would put a one year deadline on review of gas pipeline applications by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The second is HR 2728, which would prohibit federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

One thing that people do not always realize is that the loss of manufacturing facilities in the United States may contribute in a very real way to global air pollution. Specifically, many of these manufacturers leave the United States, where we have rather high level air quality laws, and relocate in China or India, where there is an almost total absence of air quality regulation. Therefore, getting some of these manufacturers back to the United States could have a real impact in global air quality, as well as in terms of job growth. It’s going to be important to look at why these manufacturers left in the first place. Part of the reason has to do with unnecessary and labyrinthian federal regulation. Another reason is that in some industries, labor unions resulted in labor prices that were unworkable. It will be interesting to see if the new partnership can impact these issues.

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