Opinion: Offshore Energy a Must for Alabama Manufacturing

Energy in Alabama employed nearly one in 17 here in 2015, according tothe Energy Institute of Alabama. The 124, 000 working in the sector helped their employers provide a $13.22 billion economic impact, $8.24 billion through the electricity production sector alone.

That’s because energy not only produces jobs; it powers other industries, including automakers, metal manufacturers and aerospace leaders – which is why federal authorities’ proposal to expand offshore development in the Gulf of Mexico is a must-do.

Aside from making fuel more available, the proposal could add 21, 000 jobs and $3.5 billion in government revenue to Alabama.

What’s more, industrial users accounted for 42.3 percent of Alabama’s energy consumption in 2015, less than the combined use of residential and transportation.

This make energy development the foundation of a robust manufacturing sector, which, according to the Center for Manufacturing Research, accounts for about 17 percent of Alabama’s economy and more than 13 percent of jobs outside of farming.

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Alabama’s agriculture heritage may have earned the state its “The Cotton State” nickname, but energy is what powers it today, and it’s imperative that policymakers work to expand it, safely.

Absent additional pipelines, Alabama would be relegated to moving more resources via rail, truck and barge – all statistically less safe means that would increase costs and uncertainty.

We can similarly clear a path for more renewable energy. About six percent of the state’s electricity generation comes from roughly two-dozen hydroelectric dams, per the EIA. This helps make the state the No. 2 hydroelectric power producer east of the Rockies.

And with forests covering two-thirds of the state, the wood products from forestry-related industries help rank Alabama among the top five for electricity generation from biomass.

Whether it’s oil, hydroelectric or another resource, energy can now be had affordably, in environmentally-friendly methods. Anyone who says otherwise is just playing politics.

Text by Brent Greenfield, Senior Policy Director, Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA)

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