Many parts, including gas, needed to sustain manufacturing’s nascent resurgence in U.S.

September 19, 2013

No matter how you cut it, there are a lot of moving parts to manufacturing. Supply and demand, pricing, skilled labor and, of course, production costs determine the success or failure of the endeavor of making something.

The supply of cheap, abundant, domestically produced natural gas is already acting as a catalyst for bringing back some manufacturing to the United States.

According to an economist for America’s Natural Gas Alliance, there are currently more than 120 individual projects involving American companies reshoring manufacturing of products involving chemicals, aluminum, plastics and other components.

But can that number of projects become exponential and return the country to its glory days as a manufacturing power?

This month, the Energy Report looks at the potential for manufacturing to undergo a renaissance in the U.S.

While recent studies by several national consulting groups point to a massive potential for the sector to grow and create millions of jobs over the next decade, there are some equally major challenges – from an imbalance of gas supply versus infrastructure to carry it to markets to regulatory proposals that could hamper or otherwise threaten the scale of such an anticipated turnaround.

On a more regional note, we’ll recap the most current energy industry news, from Consol’s major natural gas production project at Pittsburgh International Airport to Shell Oil’s continuing deliberation on whether to build an ethane cracker in Beaver County – another factor that could have a major impact on the future of manufacturing growth in Western Pennsylvania.

In our continuing coverage of the growth of the energy-related supply chain, we profile a northern Allegheny County company that has been helping rural and small business motorists using natural gas vehicles find easier ways to fill up in the absence of an abundance of dedicated CNG fueling stations.

Regarding the impact of regulatory issues, columnist Jeff Kotula looks at the pending ruling by the state Supreme Court regarding a challenge to Act 13, which established uniform statewide regulations to manage natural gas develop and limited the reach of local zoning ordinances.

As stated at the outset of this column, there are many moving parts to industries like manufacturing and natural gas production and many challenges to be worked out over the course of time.

That’s why columnist J.R. Shaw reminds us to reserve some of our personal energy to take time to enjoy our surroundings and participate in some of the myriad local events that celebrate the glory of autumn in Western Pennsylvania.

From the many moving parts of making energy and things to nature’s own multi-faceted process of creating a new season, the September Energy Report charts the changes.



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