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Petrochemical group urges 'certainty' in natural-gas policy

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The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, a national trade group in Washington, D.C., is urging Pennsylvania to establish consistent policy with regard to natural-gas production in the state in order to spur a manufacturing renaissance here.

"We need to have policies in place to promote this and grow the manufacturing industries in Pennsylvania," said Charles Drevna, the AFPM president.

Regulating industry is fine, he said, but those standards shouldn't move every time there's an election. That promotes inconsistent policy and won't help companies bring manufacturing operations to Pennsylvania, he said.

"They need to know that their investments will be met with consistency," Drevna said during an interview with the Business Journal.

When asked for examples of regulatory certainty, Drevna lamented ambient air-quality standards and President Barack Obama's climate change policies, but he didn't offer additional specifics as to what should or shouldn't change in Pennsylvania.

He said the state needs a "very unified approach."

The rapid growth of the natural-gas industry in the U.S. has opened doors for all kinds of manufacturing, particularly petrochemical production because of the building blocks that are found in the natural-gas liquids, he said. Such components are often used in the production of plastics and other products.

Natural gas is a "tectonic shift" for refiners and petrochemical companies, he said. For years, they looked overseas for their exploration and production, but horizontal hydraulic fracturing, sometimes called "fracking," changed all that.

America went from being energy poor to being energy rich, he said. Pennsylvania, with its large natural-gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale, can harness that both for energy and manufacturing growth.

"You're not going to see the large manufacturing up-tick until those plastic pellets start flowing," Drevna said.

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