Hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations has produced “far fewer new jobs” than the industry and its proponents claim, according to a new report by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative. The six-state study finds that “The number of jobs created is far below industry claims and remains a small share of overall employment in the region.”
“Industry supporters have exaggerated the jobs impact in order to minimize or avoid altogether taxation, regulation, and even careful examination of shale drilling,” said Fran Mauro, the Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York, and a member of the Research Collaborative.
According to the report, many of the core extraction jobs in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia existed before the emergence of hydraulic fracturing. Industry-funded studies have used the questionable assumption of equating “new hires” with “new jobs,” in order to inflate the number of indirect jobs created as well as “induced jobs,” or those jobs created by the spending of income earned from the industry.
“Shale drilling has made little difference in job growth in any of the six states we studied,” said another member of the Collaborative, Stephen Herzenberg, the Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center in Pennsylvania. “We know this because we now have data on what happened, not what industry supporters hoped would happen.”
The report exposes yet another of the lies that has been told in order to promote the dangerous process of pumping hundreds of chemicals into the ground in order extract gas. Despite vast evidence of fracking’s dangers, the US House of Representatives last week passed a bill to ban government regulation of fracking in states that have their own regulations in place.
Many of the representatives pushing for the passage of the bill still had the nerve to refer to fracking as a “harmless” process. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) even claimed that “Hydraulic fracturing has been safely and effectively regulated by states for decades.”
Extensive fracking occurs in the Marcellus Shale, which is located in the Appalachian Basin states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, southern New York, and eastern Ohio. The Utica Shale, which in 2011 was referred to as the “next frontier” of fracking, is a layer of rock thousands of feet deeper than the Marcellus.
In July, the Los Angeles Times released a report based on an internal Environmental Protection Agency presentation from staff members of the EPA’s mid-Atlantic office in Philadelphia stating a concern for water safety in Dimock, Pennsylvania due to the contamination of several wells “with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production.”
The EPA ignored the Dimock findings and backed down from other investigations earlier this year. The agency has been subject to pressure and interference from politicians who have harassed the EPA, seeking repeated briefings and explanations of the amount of money spent on testing water samples. In June, the EPA dropped a 2011 study citing a link between water pollution and fracking.
This summer, Republicans proposed a bill that would cut the EPA’s budget by 34 percent next year, saying that “by holding back ‘overly zealous’ and ‘unnecessary’ environmental regulations, this bill can have a positive effect on our economy and will help encourage job growth.”
Just this month, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released findings on the amount of influence the fracking industry now has over members of Congress. The report found that contributions from fracking companies and industry trade groups to House and Senate candidates from states and districts where fracking operations occur rose by 231 percent between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles. Overall, fracking contributions to congressional candidates rose by 180 percent during that same time period.
Members of the Multi-State Shale Collaborative feel that their report will provide “needed context in shale drilling and related policy debates.” Their research is important because it refutes the claim that the fracking industry is necessary because it creates new jobs. Unfortunately, with all but 67 of 535 Congress members and, potentially, government agencies, in the pockets of the industries, the impact of research exposing the dangers and shortcomings of hydraulic fracturing remains to be seen.
The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative is an effort by independent, nonpartisan research and policy organizations in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
MAP OF CURRENT AND PROPOSED FRACKING AREAS SHOWING FRACKING ACCIDENTS: