Seven years ago, I wrote a column for another publication entitled “The U.S. Chemical Industry: R.I.P.” This pillar of American economic strength, which a few years earlier was the leading exporter among U.S. manufacturing sectors (with net exports of $15–20 billion annually), was shriveling due in large part to policy blunders and regulatory mistakes. Natural gas — the lifeblood of the industry — was being diverted to power generation and its cost escalated, rendering chemicals produced in the U.S. uncompetitive in world markets. New construction slowed dramatically, and with it the activities that support the chemicals industry.
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