The US shale oil and gas renaissance has created a manufacturing rebound that could produce even more jobs and stimulate further economy growth with the right conditions, the American Shale & Manufacturing Partnership said in a recent report.
“This can be a significant partnership if we do the right thing,” American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Charles D. Drevna said at a Jan. 28 Capitol Hill event where the report was released. “It shows what a diverse group of interests can do when united by a common goal: getting more economic strength and development back in the US.”
ASMP, an informal group of business associations, public policy organizations, academic institutions, labor groups, and nongovernment entities held workshops nationwide in 2013 and 2014 to examine the impact of abundant oil and gas supplies resulting from shale resource development.
The resulting report, “Ideas to Empower America’s Emerging Shale-Based Manufacturing Renaissance,” said a more highly trained and motivated workforce, strategic partnerships among groups to provide the necessary education, improvements of already strong transportation systems, and alliances to further empower research and innovation are required.
The document is not a consensus, but a collection of ideas that ASMP hopes will drive thoughtful discussions among the broad range of stakeholders, the report said.
“This is very critical, very timely,” said David Mustine, senior managing director for energy, chemicals, and polymers at JobsOhio, the state’s leading economic development organization. “What I hear most often is we need better collaboration and alignment so our education and training systems deliver the kind of workers new manufacturing businesses will need.”
Jobs and people
The shale revolution has created 2.5 million jobs already and will generate another 4 million in the next 10 years, noted Karen A. Harbert, president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. That number will need to reach 20 million to regain what was lost in recession which began in 2008, she said.
“These ideas are important for business, government, and the public to carry forward,” Harbert said. “Everyone has been talking about the need for jobs. There also will be a need for qualified people.”
Walter W. Wise, general president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers, stated, “We exist by transferring skills from generation to generation. These are careers, not just jobs. A typical journeyman ironworker makes $65,000-70,000/year.”
Transportation improvements will be essential, Harbert said. “If we can get energy out of the ground but not bet it to where it needs to be, we’ll have problems,” she said. “I think we’ll see, with this latest storm and cold snap, how crucial this can be in New England, where there isn’t a significant natural gas infrastructure.”
Governments will need to reform their processes for issuing permits, Harbert said. “It seems as if everybody has talked it to death, but the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline is the poster child for this problem,” she said. “We’re taking way too much time to build the necessary infrastructure. When there are too many delays, costs are passed on to the consumer.”
Environmental and community impacts will need to be considered and addressed if a new US manufacturing revolution is to occur, speakers agreed. “We’ve done pretty well so far, but that doesn’t mean we plan to stop,” Drevna said. “But we’ll need to strike a balance, and not let anyone take matters to extremes.”
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