The National Manufacturers Association is lining up behind President-elect Trump’s initiative to expand the nation’s infrastructure, saying that it will benefit businesses across the country by facilitating everything from transportation to waterways to airports.
While news headlines focus on partisan fighting and a divided American electorate, the NAM says that its surveys find a source of common ground: energy infrastructure. Clear majorities in each state support increasing domestic energy production, and more than 80 percent support increased investment in power lines, pipelines, power plants, refineries and railroads, which all play a key role in manufacturing’s competitiveness.
“It’s time to finally make critical investments in our infrastructure that will support domestic energy development,” says association president Jay Timmons. It’s about “keeping manufacturers of all sizes competitive.”
The manufacturers’ association specifically looked at Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, saying that such infrastructure development has widespread appeal. It would be especially beneficial for several industries including steel, natural gas and met coal. Take natural gas: its byproducts include methane, ethane and butane, which are used in the manufacturing and chemical processes and which carry environmental benefits as well.
Proctor & Gamble’s factory in Wyoming County, Pa., for example, takes advantage of a type of onsite generation called “combined heat and power,” a process that yields both kilowatt-hours and useful heat as a byproduct. The plant, which produces Pampers diapers and Charmin toilet paper, draws on natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, improving the company’s finances and its environmental record.
It’s one thing to advance the notion of more infrastructure. It’s quite another to actually get the funds to build those roads, bridges and seaports. Part of the Obama administration’s prescription to get the nation out of the 2008 recession blues had been to invest the national treasure into those projects — a proposition that passed along party lines.
If there is room for bipartisanship, however, this pursuit might be it. The country spends surprisingly little on infrastructure — 3% of gross domestic product. But it’s hard to find common ground when the president-elect is talking about tax cuts at the same time he is discussing government outlays for highways and byways. Trump, though, says his infrastructure plan is revenue neutral and that it will return $10 for every $1 invested.
“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” said Trump. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”