Yesterday, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council hosted a forum on the benefits of natural gas for Pennsylvania's manufacturing sector.
David Taylor of the PA Manufacturers' Association commented that Marcellus Shale is the closest thing Pennsylvania will get to "manna from heaven." On top of creating tens of thousands of jobs in Marcellus Shale related industries, lowering utility bills, and generating fortunes for farmers, workers and small-business owners, shale drilling is helping to revitalize the manufacturing industry.
As the chart below highlights, ethane, a byproduct of natural gas development, is used to make a host of manufacturing products. The ACC credits the construction of new chemical plants, including Shell's proposed Pennsylvania cracker plant that's expected to generate 17,000 new jobs, to "affordable and abundant domestic shale gas."
Abundant natural gas production has significantly reduced the energy costs associated with manufacturing. However, the panelists were clear that this is a competitive market, and Pennsylvania should continue to address its business climate -- the commonwealth has the 10th highest state and local tax burden out of the 50 states -- and refrain from hand outs to politically favored companies, ensuring businesses compete on a level playing field.