Putting Fracking to Work: Just How Many Jobs Can New York Expect?

Photo by mpclemens. Some rights reserved.

Well, far be it from me to answer that question. Even the experts disagree. A recent piece in Reuters highlighted the back-and-forth that’s been happening over “potential socio-economic impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing operations within New York state.”

As part of the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program, DEC hired consultants Ecology and Environment, Inc. to help answer recurring questions and concerns about future well development and production’s socioeconomic impact on surrounding areas.

In short, the August 2011 Economic Assessment Report found “that high-volume hydraulic fracturing activities could provide a substantial economic boost for the state in the areas of employment, wages and tax revenue for state and local governments. However, the increased activity will also place a greater demand on government services.” A Fact Sheet from the DEC broke down the 250-plus analysis into a few simple charts.

The Ecology and Environment, Inc report came quickly on the heels of a similar – though seemingly far less neutral – report from The Public Policy Institute of New York State, Inc. (PPI). In Drilling for Jobs: What the Marcellus Shale could mean for New York, PPI catches attention by proclaiming that, “[i]f New York fails to allow the development of this resource, the state stands to lose over $11 billion in economic output and thousands of private sector jobs between 2011 and 2020.”

Not everyone is quite so sure, however. Last month, Food & Water Watch published Exposing the Oil and Gas Industry’s False Jobs Promise for Shale Gas Development: How Methodological Flaws Grossly Exaggerate Jobs Projects, a report that takes down previous papers’ (specifically PPI’s) “rosy projections.” Food & Water Watch claims PPI overestimated both direct economic impacts and indirect and induced economic impacts.

According to Reuters, economists and environmentalists alike are questioning the upbeat socioeconomic forecast – and these questions are making their way back to the DEC. Reuters quotes a department spokeswoman: “We are carefully reviewing all comments we received … including those on the socio-economic study.”

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