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Banning Fracking Puts PC Politics Before Local Benefits

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States which ban fracking, such as Maryland and New York, are denying their citizens the rewards and local benefits that come with shale development.

The economy-wide, macro-scale benefits of hydraulic fracturing have been well-documented and are indeed palpable in our everyday experiences in the form of noticeably more affordable energy. With the influx of shale oil on the market, for example, we’re seeing lower gasoline prices this summer than we have in over a decade. The national average is currently around $2.25-per-gallon—$1.30 less than it was three years ago. Multiplied by the 140 billion barrels of gasoline American drivers use each year, this means a total savings of $180 billion than can be put to use elsewhere in our economy.

local benefits

Nevertheless, fracking remains a misunderstood and maligned technique for energy development. Earlier this year Maryland became the third state to ban fracking outright, with Governor Larry Hogan signing the bill in April.

“The possible environmental risks of fracking simply outweigh any potential benefits,” Hogan said. “This legislation, I believe, is an important initiative to safeguard our environment.”

Taken at face value, Hogan’s statement portends care and concern for the people of Maryland. As with any technology, we should absolutely evaluate the potential risks and weigh them against the potential benefits. The problem is that Hogan’s calculation doesn’t pass muster.

Any risks that fracking poses, it stands to reason, would be felt most intensely by those who live, work, and play closest to fracking infrastructure. Those same people, however, have the most to gain from fracking.

As other states’ experiences have shown, the value of fracking accrues most directly to the people closest to it who benefit not only from the economy-wide impact, but from leasing contracts, royalties, and private sector investments. While Marylanders will continue to experience fracking’s positives that resonate throughout our economy—lower prices—they’ll miss out on a great deal.

In Texas, for instance, a new study from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas, titled Environmental and Community Impacts of Shale Development in Texas, yielded the following findings:

  • In 2014, shale development in the Permian, Eagle Ford, and Haynesville plays accounted for $27 billion in royalties paid to private landowners.
  • Oil and natural gas production generated over $1.5 billion in property tax revenue for Texas schools in FY2014.
  • The Permanent School Fund—a state education endowment supporting K-12 public schools—received $676 million in FY2014 from oil and natural gas revenues.
  • Roughly 230 independent school districts are located in areas where oil and natural gas producing properties generated at least $1 million in property tax revenue in FY2014.
  • The Permanent University Fund—an endowment supporting the University of Texas and the Texas A&M University systems through oil and gas royalties on certain state-owned lands—was at the time valued at $21.8 billion.

These are the sorts of benefits that Maryland’s politicians are denying to its citizens—particularly those in the rural, less developed western portion of the state. If Texas seems too distant and incomparable, Maryland need only look north to its neighbor Pennsylvania to see another state reaping the benefits of fracking.

While the rural counties of western Maryland and Upstate New York languish, counties just 200 miles away in eastern Pennsylvania (a mile away in the case of New York) are seeing the rewards that come with shale development.

local benefits

In its decade of operation in the Keystone State, Cabot Oil & Gas—just one company—has now paid over $1 billion in royalties and nearly $500 million in lease bonuses to landowners in Wyoming County and Susquehanna County. Rightfully, the people of Pennsylvania recognize the relationship as a win-win.

“A billion dollars flowing into our rural economy is an extremely big deal,” said Pennsylvania State Representative Jonathan Fritz. “Being pro-jobs and pro-business, I extend my appreciation to Cabot Oil & Gas. The energy industry has been a blessing to our area and I look forward to Cabot’s continued success and the widespread economic benefit that comes along with it.”

Cabot’s investment has indeed been massive, with $4.6 billion put into the region to build its network of 557 wells.

“Royalties from natural gas development have provided additional income during tough economic times,” said State Senator Gene Yaw. “Whether it’s expanding a farming operation, supporting area businesses or simply putting money away for a child’s college fund, royalties have greatly benefited rural Pennsylvanians.”

“Let’s face it, most municipalities and the county government, they live paycheck to paycheck,” Susquehanna County Commissioner Alan Hall said. “When you start breaking down all the municipalities, and the money that they’ve been able to use without borrowing money, that’s all a savings to the taxpayer.”

When Larry Hogan signed Maryland’s fracking ban in April these are the opportunities he threw away. Sadly, the people of Maryland are worse off economically than they should be, all because state politicians failed to account for these real and direct benefits.

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15 thoughts on “Banning Fracking Puts PC Politics Before Local Benefits

  1. Environmental pollution is the downside of fracking..Rep. Fritz has yet to visit the families suffering from water, air, noise and traffic pollution after I invited him to come and see on one of my Citizen Tours . We have the most homes for sale in our county and the most food banks since fracking ..and similar poverty levels continue and drug use has skyrocketed..
    Depends what perimeters you use to show benefits..
    Show the obscene, low royalty amounts folks are getting..
    Like $100. for 20 acres …!
    It’s not worth having the constant noise and odors of 50 compressor stations in my county…etc…

    • One wonders what NYC politician Donavan Richards learned on your tour with Eric weltman of food and water watch and occupy the pipeline/sane energy crew Vera? Remember that tour? This was in the fall of 2014 when there was a call for an ecocamp of resistance over in NYC over the Rockaway pipeline . Some antifracking folks like Susan van dolsen of Westchester and betta broad of what group now were calling for that ecocamp of resistance along with earthfirst and deep green resistance right? Well looks like ecocamps of resistance against pipelines are all the rage now eh Vera?

      Tell Angela Monti Fox I said hello and that it’s still stunning to actually watch this movement in action.

    • Well Vera, you obviously did not read the attached study from Texas. Page 184, Dr “science hunk” Z H is cited as a reference no less. Search science hunk on YouTube, he did not do much for you at the Temple complaint did he.

    • Since Food Banks and drug use are correlative with frac’ing, how many frac crews are working in Philadelphia? Or Newark, NJ? Or Camden? Because per capita there are far greater number of food banks (private, parochial or government), drug use and violent crimes in these areas compared to NE PA. There is no study out there that ties that oil and gas development to increased poverty – at least not in first world countries. Your causal ties above are fallacious, at best.

      • your understanding of my points is “fallacious”…
        I am merely saying that despite Fracking and some wealth for the few….we are still suffering more food banks, poverty, more drug use, empty stores, closing businesses…etc…
        besides the environmental degradation…

        it’s not a panacea for all kinds of ills..

  2. http://wtop.com/maryland/2017/06/protesters-gas-pipeline-md/

    Well perhaps the american energy alliance can figure out how it became “PC” to oppose fracking and natural gas, particularly in the exact time period that natural gas edged out coal (first time in history that has been done) as the leading fuel for electricty in the united States? How did it become “PC” to oppose natural gas, which is according to bill mckibben now the worst fossil fuel? The worst fossil fuel user to be coal and the reasons for that weren’t mythical.

  3. https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/53716

    Remember when Lucy Rockefeller W was in the nytimes last year but was not identified by her new York state park position? Was this about fracking or the consitution pipeline? It’s hard to remember as so much was going on at the time.

    Maybe her letter was about fracking. For sure karenna gores oped was on the consitution pipeline. Prior to karenna appearing at a pancakes not pipeline protest at ferc I hadn’t heard anything about her and the antifracking pipeline resistance movement. Next thing you know she’s writing op eds in NY papers on pipelines and getting arrested in a pipeline construction ditch.

  4. https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/52896

    Remember when the nytimes actually said the antifracking movement was pressuring Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton? What kind of reporting was that? Oh that was last year. What was the think tank that wrote this post doing then? Talking about how climate change isn’t an issue the American public cares about?

  5. Fracking bans are based almost entirely on flagrant anti propaganda and flat out lies. After nearly a decade and thousands of new wells in northern PA- there is NO TRAIL OF DEATH AND DISEASE, and the benefits have FAR outweighed the costs despite the incessant hysteria from and handful of malcontents who may need psychiatric evaluation…

    cuomo’s NY “temporary” permanent fracking ban is criminal. It has destroyed the minerals value of every landowner in this state without a dime in compensation.

    • How long did prohibition last? Maryland just banned fracking via the legislature this year.

      People can be rational and they also can be irrational. That is part of human nature. What trait is ruling the day when it comes to fracking?

  6. I wonder how much food would be in those food banks without ng?
    Maybe if we ban ng outright Putin and the Koch bros will take better care of us ya think Vera ?
    Burn domestic, starve a rag head!

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