The Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade and Energy and Power today held a joint hearing to discuss the role that the recent American energy boom is having on the country's manufacturing sector. The panels explored how new technologies and innovation are unlocking domestic energy resources and helping to revive American factories and bring jobs and investment back to America. Witnesses offered testimony about companies choosing to locate their manufacturing facilities in America as a result of low-cost domestic energy but also cautioned that pending regulations could hold back an American manufacturing renaissance.
"America's growing energy abundance benefits the economy and job creation in two critical ways. First, the energy production itself has created many energy industry jobs at a time when we badly need them. And second, plentiful and affordable domestic energy from coal, for example, is powering the nation's manufacturing base," said Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). "As we continue to learn about the abundant potential for North American energy independence, it is imperative that we leverage our resources in a responsible way to organically grow our economy through our manufacturing base, bringing jobs back to the U.S. for our Nation of Builders," added Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Lee Terry (R-NE).
André de Ruyter, Senior Group Executive at Sasol Limited, explained that his company, headquartered in South Africa, has made decisions to invest in America based on this nation's abundance of affordable energy. "The U.S. shale gas revolution, coupled with the current wide differential between gas and oil prices (which we anticipate to persist over the long term), have created attractive opportunities for Sasol's further growth and investment in the U.S. market," said Ruyter. "Sasol's U.S. projects are a compelling example of how bilateral trade can yield substantial foreign direct investment in the U.S., which represents a win-win for both the U.S. and South African economies."
Dean Cordle, President and CEO of chemical manufacturer AC&S, Inc., added, "The US is emerging as "the place to manufacture chemicals now' as European and Asian companies make plans to source production in the US."
Paul Cicio, President of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, described how public policy decisions can affect manufacturers and described some of the regulatory hurdles that could impede the continued growth of manufacturing in the United States and raise the cost of Energy. Cicio testified, "Of particular concern is new and potential EPA regulations that drive coal from use in the power and industrial sector, and EPA regulation of GHGs for all sectors of the economy. We cannot say enough how important it is to keep coal, an abundant, reliable and low-cost source of energy in the mix. This will ensure that electricity prices stay reasonable over the long -term. Consumers need coal in the mix to compete with natural gas."
"We must continue to remain vigilant against expensive red tape that could offset the advantage to manufacturers of low energy costs. If we do not, other countries will simply move to other parts of the world to expand their businesses where the smokestack emissions are considerably greater," concluded Whitfield. "This hearing is a good news story - a story of American innovation and private sector revitalization. But this story will only continue if we allow it."