Marcellus Shale's Impact on Economy and Human Services
Issue Spotlight: Case Studies Look at Shale Drilling’s Mixed Legacy
Natural gas drilling has transformed two Pennsylvania counties with the greatest development activities, for better and for worse. While there were new jobs and businesses, there was also more crime, increased costs for emergency services and road maintenance, and a shortage of affordable housing. In one of the two counties, the benefits proved to be temporary, as drilling activity subsided.
The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative set out to document the local impacts of shale gas drilling in Greene and Tioga counties, as well as in Carroll County, Ohio, and Wetzel County, West Virginia.
The replacement of Pennsylvania natural gas impact fee with a 5% severance tax is unlikely to deter firms from drilling new wells in the state, and it will certainly not inhibit the continued operation of existing wells.
A new Bureau of Labor Statistics report finds that the oil and natural gas industry added a total of 15,114 jobs in Pennsylvania between 2007 and 2012 — a far cry from the hundreds of thousands of jobs often attributed to the industry by its supporters.
With the Corbett administration rolling out a new State Energy Plan today, I'll leave it to the energy policy experts to produce a comprehensive evaluation of it. Here, I want to focus on one narrow issue — the jobs impact of shale drilling.
Drilling in the six states that span the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations has produced far fewer new jobs than the industry and its supporters claim, according to a six-state study released in November 2013 by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative. This webinar laid out the facts on shale drilling's impact on job creation.
Many of the core jobs in gas extraction existed well before the emergence of hydrofracking. Together, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia had 38% of all producing wells in the country in 1990 and 32% in 2000.
Natural gas drilling in the six states spanning the Marcellus Shale is highly sensitive to price fluctuations. High prices fueled shale development from 2000 to 2008. As prices have declined, gas drilling activity has slowed while development of higher-priced oil has accelerated.
A review of statements by representatives of shale drilling firms and their allies makes the motivation for this exaggeration clear — to preclude, or at least to minimize, taxation, regulation, and even careful examination of shale drilling.