Policy: Environment & Energy

Study finds fracking could revive manufacturing

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Sean Higgins,Michigan,Energy and Environment,Fracking,Natural Gas

As many as one million new manufacturing jobs could be created in the U.S. by 2025 thanks to the abundance of natural gas now available because of advances in fracking technology.

That's according to "Shale Gas: A Game Changer for U.S. Manufacturing," a study released late last month by the University of Michigan.

The study found that decreases in the cost of natural gas will boost "energy-intensive manufacturing sectors" that produce such materials as steel, glass and paper. That in turn will lower costs for manufacturers who use those items by an estimated $12 billion annually.

Natural gas has become more abundant thanks to advances in technologies — commonly called fracking — used to extract it from deep underground. The process is controversial, with environmentalists arguing it contaminates ground water, though federal investigations have not found evidence of this to date.

The study was based on a symposium held by the university in March involving representatives from industry, academia, environmental groups and President Obama's administration.

"Thomas Kalil of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council raised the prospect that shale gas could not only enhance the competitiveness of traditional manufacturing industries but usher in new industries that use gas as a feedstock," the study said.

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