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Thousands of Louisiana Chemical Industry Jobs Seen in Shales

More than 35,000 manufacturing jobs could be created in Louisiana thanks to affordable supplies of natural gas from shale plays, American Chemistry Council (ACC) CEO Cal Dooley said.

"Access to untapped supplies of natural gas is one of the most important domestic energy developments in 50 years. One-third of U.S. natural gas reserves are comprised of shale gas reserves almost impossible to extract just five years ago," Dooley said while touring Louisiana chemical industry facilities. "Shale gas promises an industrial renaissance, here in Louisiana."

"As the second largest chemical-producing state, with 23,000 chemical industry employees, Louisiana is positioned to take advantage of the lower feedstock costs that arise from new supplies of domestic natural gas," Dooley said. Abundant shale gas supplies could result in $5.4 billion in new investment in Louisiana, including expansion of existing petrochemical plants and restarting idled facilities. In addition to creating 35,000 jobs, these investments would generate $19.2 billion in chemical industry output, $2.3 billion in Louisiana wages and $399 million in state tax revenues, according to ACC statistics.

Thanks in part to reasonably priced natural gas, chemical exports at the Port of New Orleans increased 34% last year, ACC said. Nationwide, U.S. exports of polyvinyl chloride plastic have tripled since 2006.

More than 20% of plastics output was exported last year, double the level recorded before the recession. In 2010 U.S. chemical exports increased 15%, turning the balance of trade from a $140 million deficit two years ago into a $4.6 billion surplus, according to the trade association.

ACC's national report, released earlier this year, attests to the benefits of shale gas for domestic chemistry and the broader U.S. manufacturing sector. It found that a reasonable 25% increase in shale gas production would result in nearly 400,000 jobs in the chemical sector and supplier industries, more than $132 billion in U.S. economic output and nearly $4.4 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue annually.

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