The U.S. Chamber of Commerce asks a provocative question: If the energy renaissance that has been playing out over the last ten years – driven by oil and natural gas – had never happened, what would the nation’s economy look like today?
The answer is fairly grim.
According to the Chamber in a recently issued report, if the energy renaissance had not occurred:
- 3 million jobs would not have been created
- Annual GDP would be a half-trillion dollars lower
- Electricity prices would be 31 percent higher and motor fuels would cost 43 percent more
- Residential natural gas prices would be 28 percent higher
- Carbon dioxide emissions – which are at their lowest levels since the early 1990s – would be significantly higher
- And America’s manufacturing comeback would probably have never gotten under way at all
Why are these numbers so important to consider?
Because, as the report states, “the truth is that the advent of the energy revolution in the United States was not inevitable, and its future trajectory is not a foregone conclusion.”
To illustrate the report in real time, this month ExxonMobil announced a major expansion at our polyethylene plant in Beaumont, TX. Meanwhile we are nearing completion of an expansion at our chemical facility in nearby Baytown. Our investments along the Gulf Coast could create more than 28,000 temporary jobs in construction and more than 1,200 permanent jobs over the next few years and beyond.
It’s safe to say that these projects – along with billions in similar investments by other petrochemical companies – would not be occurring if not for the abundant supplies of natural gas that are coming out of America’s shale regions. (Natural gas is used as a feedstock for chemical manufacturing.)
The Chamber’s study is part of its Accountability Series of reports that consider the economic ramifications of anti-energy policies advocated by various political figures and activists. One looks at what would happen if energy production was banned on federal lands and waters, for instance. Another considers what a ban on hydraulic fracturing would entail.
These questions are worth asking as policymakers discuss important energy and environmental issues. They illustrate how the lives of millions of Americans depend on the right policy choices for jobs, lower energy bills, and general economic wellbeing.