US Chamber of Commerce Blog
We’d like to say the U.S. Chamber is always a hot spot, but this past week had particular significance for us. The week saw the Chamber leading the front on several issues. From administration officials’ visits to in-depth discussions on various policy topics, the Chamber was the place to be. Who and what’s been happening over on H Street, you ask?
Infrastructure Week kicked off with a launch event at the U.S. Chamber. The half-day summit featured remarks and panel discussions from an array of speakers, all with one unifying message: #TimeToBuild. Among the speakers at the event were U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue, Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and U.S. Chamber Chairman John Hopkins.Tom Donohue and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.Tom Donohue welcomes DoT Sec. Elaine Chao, the day’s keynote speaker, to the Chamber.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recorded remarks for the Chamber’s event.AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recorded remarks for the Chamber’s event.NuScale Power CEO and U.S. Chamber Chairman John Hopkins closes out the event with remarks.NuScale Power CEO and U.S. Chamber Chairman John Hopkins closes out the event with remarks.
Ann Beauchesne welcomes attendees to the Fifth Annual Global Supply Chain Summit.Ann Beauchesne welcomes attendees to the Fifth Annual Global Supply Chain Summit.Rep. Mike McCaul delivers the summit’s keynote address.Rep. Mike McCaul delivers the summit’s keynote address.Kevin McAleean discusses international trade opportunities along the border.Kevin McAleean discusses international trade opportunities along the border.
In keeping with Infrastructure Week’s #TimeToBuild theme, the Chamber hosted its Fifth Annual Global Supply Chain Summit. On Wednesday, U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Ann Beauchesne opened the event, with Tom Donohue delivering opening remarks. Among other participants were U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.
Vice President Mike Pence delivers the keynote address at the Invest in America! Summit.Vice President Mike Pence delivers the keynote address at the Invest in America! Summit.Myron Brilliant and Steve Mnuchin participated in a conversation at the Summit.Myron Brilliant and Steve Mnuchin participated in a conversation at the Summit.
On Thursday, global investors and U.S. stakeholders gathered for the Chamber’s “Invest in America!” Summit, which promoted opportunities for partnerships across the globe. Vice President Mike Pence served as the keynote speaker, discussing the administration’s interest in doing business with countries in all regions. What’s more, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin participated in a panel discussion with U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President of International Affairs Myron Brilliant. The two conversed about investment as a stimulus for economic development.
Later Thursday, the U.S. Chamber Americas team was joined by President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross at the U.S.-Columbia Business Council. President Santos said:
We established the entrepreneurial council of the United States and Colombia so we can have a voice in that road map. This means we are working together on every front that can be convenient for both countries. We will continue to work together. We have ratified that commitment today during our conversation. As i said before, we have the best of relations with the United States. We are strategic allies in the region, and we will continue to be so.
The Chamber’s Center for Technology Engagement (C_TEC) closed out the week with a TecTalk event. C_TEC hosted Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn. for a conversation about broadband infrastructure as it related to Infrastructure Week. She discussed emerging technologies and Congressional plans to support and protect technology.The Chamber welcomes Rep. Marsha Blackburn for a conversation about broadband infrastructure.The Chamber welcomes Rep. Marsha Blackburn for a conversation about broadband infrastructure.
The events of this past week ensured there was never a dull moment in the hallways of the U.S. Chamber. All of these activities reinforced the Chamber’s commitment to its policy priorities and demonstrated its focus to promoting growth across sectors.
What will this week have in store?
The shale boom is powering innovation and industrial investment on Texas’ Gulf Coast, the Houston Chronicle reports:
The next technological evolution of plastics into lighter, stronger materials will soon call Houston home, thanks to expansions from petrochemical giants such as LyondellBasell and other companies.
LyondellBasell, headquartered in Houston, is starting construction Monday on its $700 million plant in La Porte to churn out thinner, more durable and less environmentally harmful versions of the world's most common plastic, polyethylene. The facility should come online in 2019.
Similarly, Exxon Mobil, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Dow Chemical are building modern plastics expansions near Houston in Mont Belvieu, Old Ocean and Freeport, respectively, although their technologies and types of polyethylene vary.
They're all capitalizing on Texas' cheap and abundant shale natural gas, which contains ethane, the natural gas liquid that provides the feedstock for the chemical ethylene. Ethylene, the primary building block of most plastics, is converted into pellet form and either consumed domestically or exported to demand in Asia and Europe.
This news is part of an on-going energy success story. Because of fracking, the United States is producing immense amounts of shale natural gas and oil and making our country more attractive to domestic and foreign investment.
In March, ExxonMobil announced it would “be investing $20 billion to build or expand 11 different facilities—creating 45,000 new American jobs.” It also announced it finished an expansion of two plastics facilities.
Also in March, Dow Chemical completed its $6 billion ethane cracker near Houston. This investment happened because of “the advantaged shale gas supply available in the U.S.,” said Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chairman and CEO.
Last year, Dutch oil giant Shell announced it would build an ethane cracker near Pittsburgh, Penn. to process natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica Shales.
Beyond access to low-cost feedstocks, electricity-intensive manufacturers are investing in the U.S. because of lower electricity costs from natural gas-powered generators. Boston Consulting Consulting estimates U.S. industrial electricity costs are 30% to 50% lower than competing countries.
Overall, the shale boom means big things for industry. An American Chemistry Council analysis found that plentiful shale energy could lead to $164 billion in new investments in the U.S., supporting 738,000 permanent new jobs by 2023.
Not only is the shale boom keeping gas and electricity prices down, it’s making American manufacturing more competitive.
Infrastructure Week is a series of events this week put together by a coalition, including industry and labor, focused on raising awareness about the need to build better infrastructure for our country. At the U.S. Chamber, we are glad to be a part of the effort. We know that safe, reliable infrastructure of all kinds is needed to ensure economic growth.
Throughout Infrastructure Week and weeks ahead, much attention will be focused on needed roads, bridges, water treatment facilities and other infrastructure, along with identifying the public funding to pay for those projects.
During this time, we want to make sure that energy infrastructure is not forgotten. Constructing, maintaining and expanding our pipelines, transmission lines, substations, offshore platforms and other types of energy infrastructure is essential to our nation’s future. Unlike other types of infrastructure, energy projects do not necessarily need public investment—since many projects are privately financed.That’s crucial during this time when government funds are scarce.
America is blessed with tremendous supplies of all forms of energy and the means to transport it safely. Did you know there are already over 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines delivering energy throughout our country on a daily basis? But more are needed to meet America’s growing demand for energy. President Trump has already taken critical steps to increase our pipeline capacity by removing barriers and politics from pipeline permitting processes and moving forward on specific projects like Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
Yet, we are desperately in need of more and better energy infrastructure. If pipelines, transmission lines, and other energy infrastructure aren’t built to move energy supplies to where it is needed, all the benefits to consumers, communities, and our economy will be lost.
We recently released a study titled, What If…Pipelines Aren’t Built Into the Northeast, which sheds light on the impacts that short-sited “keep it in the ground” policies have on the Northeast and what happens when energy infrastructure isn’t built and the delivery of supplies is limited and constrained.
Specifically, the lack of natural gas pipelines in the Northeast region is responsible for higher natural gas prices “with residential and commercial consumers paying about 30 percent more overall than the average American household.”Not having enough pipelines is costing Northeastern families and businesses.
If pipelines aren't built into the Northeast by 2020 it would cost 78,400 jobs, $7.6 billion in GDP, and $4.4 billion in labor income.
In addition, thousands of jobs and economic opportunities will be lost.
America’s future depends on a continuous supply of affordable and reliable energy. Infrastructure Week provides us with another reminder that we must act now to ensure we have state of the art infrastructure in place to deliver all of our abundant American energy resources including oil, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, coal, hydro, and biofuels.
Editor's note: This originally appeared on the Institute for 21st Century Energy's blog.