Natural gas is driving manufacturing's revival in Pa.

A Jan. 15 column (“Put Methane in its Place, Not the Atmosphere” by Brian O’Neill) calls for more unnecessary regulations that would increase costs, stunt Pennsylvania’s job growth and thwart any manufacturing renaissance while producing no real benefits.

Throughout the commonwealth, natural gas is driving a manufacturing revival that’s creating good-paying jobs and boosting local economies. Plastics and chemical manufacturers are turning their attention here to take advantage of our proximity to affordable, abundant natural gas feedstocks and a highly skilled labor force. In fact, a recent London School of Economics study confirmed that shale development “has made U.S. manufacturing more competitive,” as abundant shale gas provides American manufacturers with “a cost advantage over their international competitors.”

Locally, the impending Shell cracker plant along the banks of the Ohio River in Beaver County is the most highly publicized result of this energy advantage, as the facility — which is expected to employ 6,000 during construction and 600 permanently — will convert ethane into the building blocks for everyday plastics.

In addition, an international plastics manufacturer recently announced plans to open a facility in Donora, creating nearly 100 jobs, to take advantage of the region’s affordable energy and talented labor force. And with the continued expansion of Pennsylvania’s energy infrastructure, steel manufacturers are adding jobs and reopening plants. We saw this as Dura-Bond recently announced plans to restart a steel facility in McKeesport to produce pipelines that will transport natural gas to new markets.

This manufacturing expansion is incredibly promising news for the commonwealth and is a trend that state leaders must encourage. Enacting duplicative regulations would just slow economic growth and cost Pennsylvania opportunities for much-needed investment and job creation.