Did President Obama miss the mark during his jobs speech by omitting clean and conventional sources of energy as potential areas of growth? During today's OnPoint, Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, makes the case for U.S. manufacturing growth as a result of increased shale gas production. Dooley also discusses his organization's latest proposal on the prioritization of chemical regulations.
Monica Trauzzi: Hello and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council. Cal, thanks for coming back on the show.
Cal Dooley: Delighted to be here.
Monica Trauzzi: Cal, the president surprised many during his job speech on Thursday night by not mentioning clean or conventional energy. What do you think the reasoning was behind that decision and how might that impact the energy sector and energy-intensive sectors if something like this passes?
Cal Dooley: Well, I think a lot of Democrats and Republicans were disappointed that the president didn't call for bipartisan support for the development of a comprehensive domestic energy policy. If you really want to see sustained growth in the manufacturing sector, we have to capitalize on our domestic energy resources. And the chemical industry is poised to see a significant enhancement in their global competitiveness because of the increased availability of natural gas, primarily from shale deposits in the United States. We have our member companies in the chemical industry that are poised to make billions of dollars in new investment in the United States that would create jobs, that will ensure that we will see a renaissance in manufacturing in the United States if we fully commit to developing our natural gas supplies in the United States.
Monica Trauzzi: Many say that energy is a very political issue and that's why he left it out, because if he put it in this thing wouldn't pass.
Cal Dooley: Yeah.
Monica Trauzzi: Does that have any merit?
Cal Dooley: It might have, but it's unfortunate because it's not mutually exclusive to be committed to developing our fossil fuel resources, be they natural gas, be they oil, be they coal, and also be committed to developing alternatives in renewables. You know, the chemical industry has a vested interest in all of those. We use natural gas as our primary feedstock, but we transform that natural gas into the solar films that are part of our solar cells, into the composites that are part of wind turbines. This is a win-win for this country. We can be one of the most energy rich countries, if we fully develop our whole portfolio of energy sources, that will provide the foundation for a renaissance in manufacturing in the United States, if we commit to developing a bipartisan, comprehensive energy policy. And that should have been part of the president's speech last night.
Monica Trauzzi: So, what are the jobs numbers then for shale gas?
Cal Dooley: Well, we did a study at the American Chemistry Council on just what is the potential for shale gas in the United States? If we develop, as we think, the supplies that are available in the shale gas, our findings were that it would result in the next decade in 400,000 additional jobs in the chemical sector as well as our suppliers. It will result in an additional $132 billion in economic activity in this country if we commit to developing our shale deposits.
Monica Trauzzi: But shale gas is also very controversial at this point when you're talking about hydraulic fracturing. Should we turn a blind eye to all of that just to create jobs?
Cal Dooley: No, but I think we can demonstrate that by adopting the best practices and putting in place the appropriate regulations, we can responsibly develop our shale gas deposits, while at the same time providing production for our drinking water supplies by ensuring that we're not resulting in any environmental degradation. And this is clearly -- you know, the industry has clearly demonstrated that they have the ability and have the track record, which has demonstrated that they can tap into the shale gas in an environmentally responsible and safe manner.
Monica Trauzzi: Do you think that there's still an opportunity for shale gas development and other energy sources to make its way into a jobs bill that Congress might pass?
Cal Dooley: Well, I think so. You know, I served in Congress for 14 years and energy was one where we always saw the opportunity to build bipartisan support. It should be, you know, something that Democrats and Republicans can come together. But it's not an either or. It's not that you look at solely at green energy and alternatives and renewables at the exclusion of our traditional fossil fuel energy sources. You've got to come together and say we're committed to providing the energy security that is so important to this country. And the only way we're going to achieve that is by tapping into our natural resources, be they fossil fuel based, and investing in technology allows us to transform our alternatives and renewables. That's a prescription for bipartisan support. It needs presidential leadership, it needs congressional leadership and I can guarantee you the American Chemistry Council, the manufacturing sector is prepared to stand up and provide leadership in the private sector to ensure that we have a comprehensive energy proposal in this country.
Monica Trauzzi: So, did you see any solid support for the manufacturing sector in the president's speech?
Cal Dooley: Well, unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of attention given to how you provide sustained growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector. You know, the proposals the president offered last night, I'm sure some of those will engender some bipartisan support, but they weren't the proposals that can contribute to long-term sustained economic development. You know, if our companies are going to be making capital investments, they have to have the certainty that they're going to have the energy resources, are going to ensure that they have the regulatory environment that gives them the certainty to ensure that they're going to have the global competitiveness that they need to win in this global economy. And there wasn't really a lot of reference in the president's speeches to that formula that could make a huge difference in terms of increased investment in manufacturing in the United States.
Monica Trauzzi: So, regulation was another big piece of the president's job speech and something else that ACC has been working on is the prioritization of chemical regulations. You sent something along to EPA, some suggestions about how to prioritize which chemicals to increase regulations on. Talk a bit about that and what you're proposing.
Cal Dooley: Yeah, we're very pleased with the response that we've had from the regulatory community and the EPA, as well as the NGO community, some of our partners in the environmental and consumer safety community, to our proposal to prioritize chemicals that would take a look at the hazard that they might pose to consumers and the environment. And also to incorporate what is the exposure of these chemicals to different populations, be they women, children, as well as workers. And we put together a comprehensive approach that would allow us to prioritize every chemical in commerce, that would identify those that pose the greatest concern that would then allow us, both as a private sector, as well as EPA, to focus more of their attention on how we can safely utilize those in products that are going into commerce.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, we'll end it right there. Interesting stuff. Thank you for coming on the show, nice to see you.
Cal Dooley: Thank you Monica.
Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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