“Enormous” Manufacturing Growth Potential with Natural Gas, Dept. of Energy Report Finds

Appalachia, with its abundant natural gas resources, has the potential to be a petrochemical and manufacturing powerhouse unmatched by any other region in the country, an important Department of Energy report concludes. The new report credits the region’s energy abundance as key to giving domestic manufacturers the competitive edge needed to invest, expand and create jobs.

“A major component of the United States economic recovery will be the abundance of reliable, affordable energy to enable United States manufacturing and other sectors of the economy to reignite the pre-pandemic boom,” The Appalachian Energy and Petrochemical Renaissance: An Examination of Economic Progress and Opportunities report concludes.

With the region’s abundant natural gas and natural gas liquids – most of which are concentrated in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays – skilled and ready workforce, and our geographical proximity to international trading hubs, Pa., W.Va. and Ohio have a competitive advantage for significant manufacturing growth.

“The post-pandemic economic comeback is going to be powered by American energy dominance, and Appalachia is poised to take the leading role,” U.S. Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes continued.

This growth has already begun, in fact, with Shell’s $6 billion petrochemical manufacturing facility under construction in Beaver, Pa. and PTT America’s proposed facility in Belmont County, Ohio. The Shell site – which will take ethane and convert it into the building blocks for life-saving medical equipment and other durable plastic goods – has more than 6,000 workers on site, with the majority of positions filled by local union building trades men and women.

“The safe development of clean-burning American natural gas has been a Godsend, providing the region’s manufacturers with the competitive advantage to invest and create good-paying jobs, especially as it relates to putting tens-of-thousands of skilled building trades members to work,” MSC’s Spigelmyer said.

To attract more manufacturing investments – and the good-paying jobs that come with it – the DOE identified four key areas of focus for local, state and federal policymakers:

  • A business environment that is supported by pro-growth tax policy, increased regulatory certainty, efficient permitting processes, and timely government actions
  • Public infrastructure, such as roads, rail, locks, ports, and broadband, which enables commerce
  • Workforce development, which provides a pool of skilled workers suited to today’s and tomorrow’s needs, and enables businesses, families, and communities to grow and thrive
  • Innovation, particularly with respect to early stage research and development (R&D) and public-private partnerships, that advance technology to the point where the private sector can carry it forward to the marketplace.

This report, which details the generational opportunity shale presents the region, stands in stark contrast to the House Climate Crisis Committee’s plan, which would essentially ban fossil fuel development, destroy hundreds of thousands of good paying, many union, jobs, and drive up home energy costs for hard-working families.

“By leveraging the region’s natural gas abundance, we’re responsibly moving our economy forward, delivering meaningful consumer savings, and making our country more secure, all while protecting and improving the environment we all share,” Spigelmyer said.