The recent discussion around energy typically ends with a statement about how Americans, and people globally, ought to cut down on energy usage in order to curb climate change and change the energy industry. But a recent article by Marita Noon, from Townhall, says the opposite is true. The title of the article is “America Needs to Use More Energy, Not Less.” How is this possible, you ask?
The article begins with manufacturing. Both presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have had countless discussions about U.S. manufacturing, job loss, and outsourcing. a topic that seems to resonate across the nation.
“The rhetoric,” reports US News, “has struck home with Americans across the country—particularly those currently or formerly employed in the embattled U.S. goods-producing and manufacturing sectors, who have repeatedly borne the brunt of corporate efforts to move work overseas.”
The lost jobs, due to automation and advances in technology, mean many of those jobs might never be recovered. People are replaced by more efficient processes in addition to robotic operations the eliminate a personal, human touch. MarketWatch .com, says Noon, says the percentage of people in manufacturing is at a record low of 8.5 percent, and jobs lost to China and Mexico are a part of that equation as well. But a discussion with Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative, is optimistic about U.S. manufacturing jobs. He says:
We’ve gone from losing somewhere around 200,000 manufacturing jobs a year in 2000 to 2003 to net breaking even. Balancing the trade deficit will increase U.S. manufacturing by about four million jobs at current levels of productivity.
So where does energy fit in?
While there are many factors driving offshoring, lower wages give countries like China and Mexico a competitive advantage. Energy costs, however, give the U.S. an advantage as “manufacturers need a lot of energy to make their processes work,” stated Gary Marmo, director of sales for New Jersey’s Elizabethtown Gas. He says: “A typical office building will use 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 therms a year. A good sized manufacturing plant will probably use that same amount in just a couple of days.”
And energy costs in China are much, much higher–50 percent higher, according to the article. So it seems that the cost of manufacturing goods overseas should be so much more expensive that U.S. manufacturers should have a competitive edge. And a healthy GDP is linked closely to energy use, and Noon stresses the importance of keeping U.S. energy prices low enough to be conducive to business, and not letting “green policies” force prices higher, since energy is one of the top operating costs for energy intensive industries, such as plastics, metals, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
So if we can keep energy prices low enough to encourage manufacturers to stay at home to produce goods, we might just see some growth in an area where we’ve been previously hit hard. Ideally, combining efficient processes and incorporating new, less polluting energy sources into manufacturing would allow us to kill two birds with one stone. So we’ll have to keep working on figuring out how to make renewable and clean energy sources affordable for businesses.