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Natural Gas Job Growth Challenges and Opportunities Focus of Caucus in D.C.

The Congressional Natural Gas Caucus holds a hearing this morning to examine job growth in the natural gas industry — more specifically, what opportunities and potential challenges exist to growing American jobs.

"We're talking now about 1.6 million direct jobs from natural gas, 600,000 new jobs in 2010 alone. Overall we're looking at about 2.8 million jobs, a fairly stable job sector for the next 20-25 years from this natural gas development and use, and it's an exciting aspect of the United States," said Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA-18), co-chair of the caucus.

There are some obstacles, including an outcry from environmentalists and others about possible environmental harm. Murphy said he understands that concern, but adds the jobs and energy independence potential cannot be overstated. "We have to make sure we do it right," Murphy said. "There will be no loopholes, no shortcuts to any environmental concerns, and I believe we can do this right because there is a good track record of doing it right, but that will be an ongoing challenge, we have to respect the environment and not shirk from that."

The Congressional Natural Gas Caucus is a bipartisan group which advocates the use of domestic natural gas. Murphy said taking advantage of the resource would cut the nation's dependence on foreign energy and build up the job market. He points to other industries that saw their factories move overseas. "You can't move the whole planet. That is here in the United States, so it is this ongoing, abundant supply, and you need the manufacturing facilities and the other cracking facilities near the wells for maximum efficiency, so it will continue to be American jobs for this American resource."

Witnesses at the hearing will present perspectives on natural gas exports, regulation, and the impacts of expanded domestic production on the chemical sector. Murphy said the overall goal is to make sure members of Congress are updated on what's happening in the natural gas industry.