Corrected: US chems seek climate law exemption for natgas feedstock

13 January 2009 20:49  [Source: ICIS news]

US chems seek natgas exemption

Correction: In the ICIS news story headlined “US chems seek emissions exemption for natgas feedstock” dated 13 January 2008, please read the headline as “… climate law exemption  …” instead of   “… emissions exemption …”

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US chemical producers on Tuesday urged Congress to authorise increased domestic production of natural gas and to exempt natgas feedstock from legislation expected this year to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), told former congressional colleagues at an energy and climate control forum that energy and climate legislation being considered by Congress this year must give consideration to the chemicals industry if climate improvements are to be made without undermining the nation’s economy.

Dooley, picked as the new ACC chief executive in July last year, earlier served 14 years in the US House representing the San Joaquin Valley area of California.

“To maintain US production and jobs and supply chemistry-dependent industries, we need accessible, affordable energy - especially natural gas,” Dooley said.

“We believe there should be an accommodation in energy and climate policy for raw materials such as natural gas,” he said.

The US petrochemicals industry and downstream chemical and resins manufacturing are heavily dependent on natural gas as a feedstock. 

Climate control legislation introduced in Congress last year and certain to be revisited by the new 111th Congress this year could impose major emissions limits on industry.  Those restrictions, chemical sector leaders say, could drive up the cost of natural gas and force still more US chemicals production and jobs offshore.

Various bills seeking to impose limits on US emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) could force wide-scale fuel switching among electric utility companies from coal to cleaner-burning natgas.

Those legislative goals and the consequences of haphazard emissions controls could have “an enormous impact on our industry because we use large amounts of natural gas and other energy sources as vital raw materials as well as for heat and power”, Dooley said.

“When [natural gas is] used as a raw material, we convert the actual energy molecules into chemistry products - a process that does not emit greenhouse gases and should be exempt from mandatory controls,” he said.

Dooley cautioned that imposing emissions restrictions without enabling expanded domestic production of natural gas would undermine both environmental goals and the nation’s economy.

“Chemistry products go into 96% of US manufactured goods, including energy-saving materials that make the rest of the economy more energy efficient,” he said, citing building insulation, wind turbines, solar panels, lightweight and fuel-saving plastic components in automobiles and reflective coatings.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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