04 February 2009 16:52 [Source: ICIS news]
By Ivan Lerner
“We must force [coal] forward. This becomes an issue of competitiveness. When you consider natural gas has increased its price fourfold in the last 10 years, and when the US is competing with India, China and South America, it becomes critical to keep up,” said Randy Dearth, the head of the North American arm of the German specialty chemical company.
Moreover, if new laws limit coal burning in power plants, those facilities would turn to natural gas, a crucial feedstock for the US chemical industry, he said.
“That would take what’s an already big problem and make it larger. It would make the chemical industry totally uncompetitive in the global market,” Dearth said.
The US chemical industry has lost roughly 125,000 jobs in the last eight to nine years, he said. “A lot of it is due to the fact that our energy prices are so much higher.”
It is up to the industry to be proactive with the new Congress and Obama administration, Dearth said.
“We don’t have much time - things are happening quickly,” he said.
Coal does come with concerns, however - one technical, the other political, Dearth said.
Technological advances have to be made regarding cleaner burning coal and lower greenhouse-gas emissions, he said. “That’s absolutely essential."
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