Fracking: Benefits inflated and impact ignored | Arkansas Blog

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fracking: Benefits inflated and impact ignored

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2012 at 12:32 PM

For your reading pleasure: A policy maker's guide to the pluses and minuses of shale gas production from the National Conference of State Legislatures, a non-partisan, non-industry-funded organization.

The Energy Wire summarizes:

But the report warns that fracturing companies may provide inflated estimates of the economic benefits of energy development while not mentioning the negative local impacts that some regions are experiencing.

"Rural areas tend to experience short-term booms as extraction industries move in, then experience long-term busts," the report says. "Reduced economic diversity, higher unemployment and wider income disparities often ensue once industry leaves."

Quick fact noted is the exaggeration of job benefits. One industry supported study claimed the shale supported 600,000 jobs in 2010. But note that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports only 186,000 jobs in the entire U.S. oil and gas extraction industry in 2011.

The careful point from NCSL is that it should be a balancing act — weighing obvious economic benefits against obvious environmental and other concerns. Some states push harder to insure a return for their people. Six states — Alaska, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma and North Dakota — get more than 10 percent of total state revenue from extraction taxes. Doesn't seem to have stopped the industry in those states. Things can be done: Water quality enforcement, impact fees on wells, tougher disclosure rules, wastewater rules, better rules on well construction and spacing.

In Arkansas, the Shale Caucus says it's all good. Other states are not so much captive to industry boosterism.

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