With a politically charged climate in Congress, can meaningful policy on shale gas exploration, energy efficiency and energy regulations move in the near term? During today's OnPoint, Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, exclusively discusses his organization's new advocacy and awareness campaign with E&ETV. The campaign, Chemistry to Energy, focuses on the chemistry industry's role in the United States' economic recovery. Dooley weighs in on the controversy surrounding shale gas exploration and the exportation of liquefied natural gas to Asian and European markets.
Monica Trauzzi: Hello and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. Cal, always great to see you.
Cal Dooley: Glad to be back.
Monica Trauzzi: Cal, ACC is launching an advocacy and awareness campaign today, Chemistry to Energy. You have the support of members of Congress, including Senator Coons, Congressman Ed Whitfield. And a key component of this campaign is the exploration of shale gas. Are you encouraged by what the president has been saying lately about increasing our shale gas exploration and our gas supply?
Cal Dooley: Well, certainly we're very pleased the President Obama has indicated that he understands the real potential for the United States to enhance their domestic energy security by capitalizing on natural gas from shale. And that's absolutely critical to the chemical industry, because we did a study at ACC just not quite a year ago, where we were able to demonstrate that by our ability to capitalize on shale gas we're going to see an enhanced competitiveness of the U.S. chemical industry that's going to result in over $16 billion in capital investment that will generate over 400,000 jobs in the United States.
Monica Trauzzi: And chemical manufacturers use natural gas as their primary raw material. When you hear the discussion about exporting resources of natural gas that we have here in the U.S. to the Asian market, to Europe, what are your thoughts? Is that a good economic move for the United States?
Cal Dooley: Well, what we need, we need to have the sound regulatory policies in the United States that allow U.S. manufacturers to capitalize on domestic energy resources, be they oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear. And if we get those right, the United States manufacturers, the United States chemical industry will be putting those to good use here in the United States creating jobs. You know, we're obviously very cautious about government getting in and regulating either demand or regulating the flow of resources, either domestically or internationally.
Monica Trauzzi: And in this campaign you use the word rational when it comes to the regulatory practices. In using that word, are you qualifying the administration's current approach to regulation as irrational? How do you qualify it?
Cal Dooley: Well, we think that there needs to be a very balanced approach. When it comes to shale gas, as an industry, we fully support the disclosure of chemicals that are used in fracking fluids. We think though that people, most people understand that there has to be that balance to ensuring that confidential business information is protected while we're providing the appropriate health and safety information that is important to the -- you know, to the general public's confidence that we can extract natural gas from shale responsibly.
Monica Trauzzi: OK, so it's not just about shale gas. There are other energy items included in this plan. How do you sort of round out this energy approach?
Cal Dooley: Well, the way that we're advancing this, if you want to see a sustained economic recovery in the United States, it really has to be built upon greater energy security and we have the opportunity to achieve that and the chemical industry is going to play an important role in that. So we are suggesting that policymakers need to come together and embrace a domestic energy policy that ensures that we're producing all of the above, be it natural gas from shale, be it domestic oil, be it alternatives and renewables. And the U.S. chemical industry is going to be at the forefront of that. We also can't look beyond though the low-hanging fruit that energy efficiency provides. You know, the chemical industry is at the forefront of developing the innovations and technology that contribute to greater energy and efficiency. In fact, we just did a study which demonstrated that the products that we're putting in the marketplace that facilitate energy efficiency can save enough energy that is required by 56 million households. So, you know, we've got a great story to tell there. And the other component of it, which is not often focused on, it deals with energy recovery. You know, we have 85 waste energy facilities in 25 states in the country that are currently producing enough energy to power 2 million homes. We can take some lessons from Japan and Germany on waste energy and if we can further capitalize on a lot of the products in the waste that we're burying, we can do much better. And, in fact, if you just took the plastics that we're burying in landfills and transformed those into an energy source, we could power another 6 million -- or meet the energy needs of another 6 million homes. So our policy prescription here is let's get our domestic energy production right. Let's complement that with a strong focus on energy efficiency and then let's also look at our municipal waste stream as a valuable energy source as well.
Monica Trauzzi: Getting much of this off the ground would require some kind of comprehensive policy that would need to make its way through Congress. And considering the current political climate, the way things are being politicized, do you really see any path forward in the near term on some form of energy policy or is this all rhetoric at this point and will it not actually turn into action for some time?
Cal Dooley: Well, the event we're having today with having Democratic Senator Coons, as well as Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield that are coming together to participate with a number of industry leaders, I think is a clear demonstration that energy policy is one where there should be broad bipartisan support. But, you know, as serving in Congress and recognizing that this is still a difficult political environment, it's important for the American Chemistry Council and other associations in industry sectors to come together to try to create a political environment that allows for bipartisan cooperation to ensure that we can enhance our domestic energy security, which is absolutely critical to providing for greater economic security for the United States.
Monica Trauzzi: Is this the chemical industry's new focus and does it sort of distract from some of the other issues that your member companies have had to deal with, particularly in terms of the safety of its products?
Cal Dooley: Well, we think this is very complementary to a lot of our policy and initiatives and certainly while we're going to be focused on this energy initiative, we are absolutely committed to enhancing our chemical management safety work as well. And we'll continue to be advancing our principles for the reform and the modernization of the way that we assess the safety of our chemicals that we're putting into commerce. We certainly have the capacity and the willingness to do both.
Monica Trauzzi: OK, we'll end it there. Thank you for coming on the show, nice to see you.
Cal Dooley: Thank you.
Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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