Abundant US natural gas supplies have strengthened manufacturing significantly, but major investments will be needed in pipelines and other systems to meet future demand for gas to generate power and keep manufacturers strong, a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers concluded.
“This study unequivocally shows that if our growing demand is not taken seriously by policymakers, we will have a serious lack of infrastructure that will jeopardize our growth,” NAM Pres. Jay Timmons said on May 3 as the trade association released the IHS Economics study.
“Gas is responsible for millions of jobs, tens of thousands in manufacturing alone,” Timmons said. “This study highlights several specific examples of how manufacturers of all sizes have benefited from utilizing gas.”
Among the study’s key findings were:
• Access to gas contributed to 1.9 million jobs across the US in 2015.
• Shale gas has put an extra $1,337 back into the average American family’s pocket.
• New gas transmission lines have meant more than 347,000 jobs, with 60,000 in manufacturing.
• Total US gas demand is poised to increase 40% over the next decade, with manufacturing and power generation as the key factors.
• US supplies are projected to increase 48% during that period to meet demand.
• Because energy innovation is lowering production costs, IHS expects energy-intensive industries such as chemicals, metals, food, and refining to outperform the US economy as a whole through 2025.
• Shale-gas production has created new flow patterns that are causing existing pipelines to reverse flow, and will necessitate construction of new pipeline capacity.
NAM and its members plan to be more active participants in the national energy policy debate because the stakes are so high, said Ross Eisenberg, the association’s vice-presidnet for energy and resources policy.
“The ‘keep-it-in-the-ground’ movement was not the reason we did the report, but it’s undoubtedly a part of the debate,” Eisenberg said. “Large and small manufacturers are standing up, saying we use this, and it’s helping our companies grow. We’re going to motivate our constituency so we can be a major participant in the energy debate because we believe it’s important.”
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