Study: Pro-fracking job numbers are greatly ‘exaggerated’

A gas drilling rig. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
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ALBANY—A labor-backed group that opposes hydraulic fracturing released a report on Thursday that accused industry supporters of "exaggerating" its economic impacts.

The Fiscal Policy Institute joined with groups in states that comprise the gas-rich Marcellus Shale to issue a report that questions the industry's claims about the number of jobs created by fracking.

The industry's claim that fracking has created 180,000 jobs in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio is not true, according to Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of Pennsylvania's Keystone Research Center and one of the authors of the new study.

Tallying the jobs using available government data shows that Pennsylvania has created 22,000 shale-related jobs, according to the report. West Virginia has created 6,000 and Ohio 3,000. All of those figures represent less than one percent of the state's total, and a number of those jobs go to out-of-state workers.

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Frank Mauro, the executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, said industry and business groups are purposely misusing data on new hires to make it appear as if the industry is more transformative than it really is.

“It is to preclude or at least to minimize taxation, regulation and even careful examination of shale drilling,” he said.

The new study comes as groups on both sides of New York's fracking debate prepare for what could be the last legislative session before Gov. Andrew Cuomo's expected decision on whether to lift a state moratorium on fracking. Cuomo recently said expected to make his long-awaited decision on fracking before next year's elections.

At a recent speech at an industry event, state G.O.P. chair Ed Cox said Cuomo's delay was costing New York thousands of jobs. He said the Southern Tier region was especially hard-hit by the state's five-year moratorium, because it had lost out on thousands of jobs that went to Pennsylvania instead. Of the 30 states where fracking is possible, only New York has a moratorium.

Anti-fracking advocates have staged regular protests outside of Cuomo's public events to protest any lifting of the ban.

State business leaders said the study doesn't tell the whole story. In a five county-region of Pennsylvania where fracking is booming, 2,425 jobs were added between 2009 and 2010, while New York's Southern Tier shed 389 jobs, said Darren Suarez, director of government affairs at the Business Council of New York.

"Nothing has transformed the rural economies of Marcellus Shale states like natural gas drilling," Suarez said in a statement. "Viewing job creation on a statewide basis ignores the localized job creation benefit that drilling provides."

 

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