U.S. Chemical Investment Linked to Shale Gas Reaches $100 Billion
Potential U.S. chemical industry investment linked to plentiful and affordable natural gas has topped $100 billion. These projects—new factories, expansions, and process changes to increase capacity—could lead to $81 billion per year in new chemical industry output and 637,000 permanent new jobs across the economy by 2023.
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The products of chemistry empower our nation’s efforts to improve energy efficiency—from insulation to coolants to packaging, the products of chemistry help save energy every day. Chemistry also is the source of many innovative technologies that drive cleaner energy options, create green jobs and propel U.S. economic growth.
To meet our nation’s economic and environmental goals, ACC supports a comprehensive national energy strategy that promotes and develops all of America’s own energy resources—conventional and shale natural gas, oil, wind, nuclear, solar, etc.—while also promoting energy efficiency and alternative sources, such as energy recovery.
Three energy sources—domestic natural gas from shale formations, energy efficiency and energy recovery from plastics—can help America reach energy security and environmental goals. At the same time, these energy sources will promote growth in America’s chemistry industry and create opportunity for a broad range of industries, while driving the creation of new jobs.
Given federal and state budget realities, public policies must look beyond traditional government subsidies and identify new ways to encourage energy efficiency, as well as alternative and renewable energy technologies. At the same time, government policies must not undermine the availability of domestic natural gas.
American chemistry relies on abundant, affordable natural gas as a source of energy and as a raw material, or “feedstock,” for countless chemical products. It is estimated that U.S. shale deposits contain 100 years of natural gas supply, a “game changer” that is rejuvenating America’s chemistry industry—and can strengthen U.S. manufacturing, boost exports, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and improve our nation’s energy security.
The products of chemistry save energy and drive cleaner technologies. For example, plastics reduce the weight of automobiles which significantly increases fuel efficiency. Encouraging the use of energy efficiency technologies in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors, including the adoption of updated energy efficiency building codes, will lead to significant energy savings. For example, updated codes would encourage use of plastic foam insulation, which would dramatically reduce energy use in buildings where 40 percent of U.S. energy is used.
Technologies today are able to recover the energy contained in plastics. Plastics have a high energy content that can be converted to electricity, synthetic gas, fuels and recycled feedstocks for new plastics and other products of chemistry.
Recovering this abundant energy also reduces waste sent to landfills and complements plastics recycling. Energy recovery is rapidly becoming viewed as another source of clean or renewable energy.