US chems stress activism in raising manufacturing awareness

11 May 2010 23:29  [Source: ICIS news]

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (ICIS news)--US chemical companies should take a more active role in raising awareness to the struggles of the US manufacturing industry, chemical executives said on Tuesday.

 “Most recently, within the last decade, we have seen the manufacturing industry vanish,” said Greg Babe, president and CEO of Bayer, during a press briefing at the annual Pittsburgh Chemical Day.

 “Out of 120 major chemical industry construction projects worth over $1bn (€780m), only one is in the US. Coming out of the recession we have shifted from a net exporting industry to a net importing industry,” he continued.

 “Although this decline in US manufacturing is due in part to economics, it has also been driven by society’s indifference to this industry. That indifference is our fault as an industry,” he said.

Among the barriers that the chemical industry would need to overcome included communication barriers where chemical companies themselves would need to speak out on behalf of their industry, rather than leave that responsibility at the hands of trade associations, Babe said.

US chemical companies also needed to boost credibility by operating facilities at state-of-the-art levels of technology and processes, he said.

Moreover, US companies needed to overcome political barriers by leading at the forefront of the legislation pipeline, Babe explained.

 “We are at an opportune time to use today’s technologies and innovations to turn this industry around,” said Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). “We’ve been in the business of creating green jobs for decades, but people don’t really know that.”

 “We have the opportunity here to tell our story; we just haven’t done it ourselves. Instead, others are telling the story,” Dooley said.

On a tangible level, building manufacturing jobs would only happen at a point where the US chemical industry achieved competitively-priced energy and fuel sources, Dooley said.

To that end, ACC and Pennsylvania state leaders said they were continuing to explore the potential of the nearby Marcellus Shale Gas reserve as a significant source of natural gas.

 ($1 = €0.78)

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By: Feliza Mirasol
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