Shale Gas: A Game-Changer for US Manufacturing

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: The U.S. shale natural gas revolution since 2008 presents a tremendous opportunity for an accompanying boom in manufacturing. There is a policy void, however, to make this realized. A 2014 University of Michigan’s public-private stakeholders’ symposium brought together top decision-makers from the private and public sectors to develop a set of options aimed at strengthening U.S. manufacturing through sustainable shale gas use. There are five key recommendations that must be implemented to achieve the desired results.

The U.S. shale gas boom of recent years has enabled domestic job creation and economic growth, and it has recast the U.S. role in the global energy landscape. The growing availability of low-cost shale gas could catalyze a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing. In particular, it could help revitalize the chemical industry and enhance the global competitiveness of energy-intensive manufacturing sectors such as aluminum, steel, paper, glass, and food.

Lower feedstock and energy costs could help U.S. manufacturers reduce natural gas expenses by as much as $12 billion annually through 2025, creating one million new manufacturing jobs. The American Chemistry Council has reported 148 chemical and plastics projects totaling $100 billion in potential new investment in the U.S. But this window of opportunity may be limited; nations such as China also possess potentially vast natural gas reserves, much of them yet untapped.

This rapid shift in energy supply and resource development has exposed an important weakness: the U.S. lacks 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 a variety of industries. As such, this 2014 University of Michigan’s public-private stakeholders’ symposium offers five key recommendations to best utilize domestic shale gas to fuel a manufacturing revival:

  1. Ensure societal license to operate through greater transparency and dissemination of best practices
  2. Incentivize infrastructure investment
  3. Apply remote sensing technologies to methane emissions
  4. Train a next-generation energy workforce
  5. Build the bridge to a cleaner energy future

Read the full study here

Feature Charticle

U.S. Natural Gas Wellhead Price

EIA

Findings: 

  • Low-cost shale natural gas can help install a U.S. manufacturing revival.
  • Economic growth from industry must be balanced with environmental progress.
  • The sustainable goal is to utilize shale gas for manufacturing while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions and establishing a bridge to a cleaner energy future.

Read the full study here.