Can you imagine an energy self-sufficient North America by 2020? How about another 1 million new jobs created in the energy sector by 2017? Is another $348 billion added to the United States GDP in one year from natural gas possible?
According to many energy experts, the answer is a resounding yes.
A recent column published in Reuters says the U.S. has low-cost natural gas to thank for a manufacturing boom that is driving a competitive advantage for companies that make everything from plastic to tires to steel and much more. This means big things for the U.S. economy.
Cheap natural gas, which can be produced at approximately one-third the cost of other energy sources, is prompting companies to “re-shore” their manufacturing operations, and bring plants and factories that not long ago were forced to move abroad back to the U.S. This move is breathing new life into hard-hit manufacturing communities that were, until recently, hanging on by a thread.
Evidence of the natural gas boom is easy to find. In fact, more than $100 billion worth of investment have been announced as a result of affordable natural gas. Some examples include:
- Dow Chemical just restarted a “long-mothballed plastics plant” and is building or rebuilding three others.
- Nucor, a highly profitable steel company, is about to open a “mammoth plant in Louisiana and is starting to build another” that will produce a new type of iron that is only possible with low-cost gas.
- Siemens, a massive German electronics and engineering company, has begun producing gas turbines in Virginia for export to Saudi Arabia.
- Within the last year, Japanese and Korean automobile companies have seen the need to expand their manufacturing capabilities in the U.S to more effectively meet the demand from the European market.
Such economic revitalization is not written in stone, however. The Reuters column is quick to point out that, “The biggest longer-term threat … is the lobbying drive for permits to export massive amounts of natural gas.”
Thankfully, the most recent Department of Energy decision to consider export requests on a case-by-case basis brings the restraint necessary to keep America’s natural gas advantage at the forefront. Let’s let natural gas power the next economic boom.
For more information about how natural gas is powering economic growth read the full column at Reuters.