Over the past few years, producers in the chemical and manufacturing industries have rapidly expanded their output, thanks in large part to the raw materials and energy sold to them by producers using the methods of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Frackers not only help provide inexpensive energy to chemical manufacturers (electricity in America costs about half of what it does in Europe and Asia), they also provide natural gas liquids (such as ethane) that chemical manufacturers use to make a wide range of products including plastics, elastomers, textiles, solvents, glue, fuel, paints, insulation, perfume, chewing gum, plastic wrap, pesticides, and agricultural fertilizers.
And not only do virtually all Americans use such products every day, U.S. producers sell their goods abroad as well. U.S. chemical producers export $187 billion of goods every year, accounting for around 12 percent of total U.S. exports.
Prior to the fracking revolution, the U.S. chemical industry was in decline (as were many other sectors of the economy). Just five years ago, the U.S. was on the verge of becoming a net importer of chemicals, “but today, chemicals are once again America’s single biggest export—larger than agriculture, automobiles, and aerospace.”
The chemical industry enables or contributes to the success of practically every other form of manufacturing, and, by extension, so does the fracking industry.
Frackers help create an abundance that all enjoy but few appreciate. To the degree they are free to operate, profit-seeking frackers produce enormous wealth and enable the production of much more.
Here’s to the frackers and the multitude of companies that turn the energy and materials provided by frackers into the goods and services we need to live and prosper.