Shale Gas: A Game Changer for American Manufacturing
The University of Michigan held its inaugural event of the Public-Private Stakeholders Symposium, Shale Gas: A Game Changer for American Manufacturing, at the The National Press Club in Washington, DC on March 28, 2014.
The shale gas boom of recent years, and the accompanying global shift in the energy landscape, presents the U.S. with an opportunity to create jobs and foster economic growth. The U.S. needs a strategic plan and a suite of economically, socially, and environmentally viable policies to responsibly leverage the new abundance of low-cost natural gas, both as fuel and as feedstock for the chemical industry. The University of Michigan’s public-private stakeholders symposium, Implications of Shale Gas on U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness, brought together top decision-makers from the private and public sector to develop a set of policy options aimed at strengthening U.S. manufacturing through sustainable shale gas use.
Shale gas is a key U.S. natural resource that risks being squandered if responsive, actionable policies are not established to make sure this resource is developed wisely and effectively. Managed properly, the availability of low-cost shale gas could usher in a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing, revitalizing the chemical industry and enhancing the global competitiveness of energy-intensive manufacturing sectors such as aluminum, steel, paper, glass, food, and chemicals. Lower feedstock and energy costs could help US manufacturers reduce natural gas expenses by as much as $12 billion annually through 2025, creating one million new manufacturing jobs. In February 2014, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported 148 chemical and plastics projects totaling $100 billion in potential new investment in the U.S. But this window of growth opportunity is limited; nations such as China also possess potentially vast natural gas reserves, much of them yet untapped.
Symposium participants included high-level representatives from key government agencies (DOE, EPA, DOC), Congress, the White House, key industry stakeholders, and thought leaders from civil society and academia. The symposium included the perspective of recent studies on price, environmental and health impacts, technology, and public acceptance, while focusing largely on economic impacts of increased manufacturing competitiveness. Within a moderated multi-stakeholder forum, critical opportunities, barriers, and potential solutions were explored. The result will be a set of publicly accessible, actionable policy options that maximize the benefits of U.S. shale gas reserves.
The meeting was open to invited participants only. All participants were asked to provide, in advance, written responses to a set of questions highlighting key issues to be discussed. The agenda included an overview of the opportunities and issues; a summary of written responses from participants; a high-level discussion panel with leaders from industry and government, and professionally moderated, in-depth participant discussions on top issues.