While the benefits of oil and gas development continue to make the news across the country, the effects in Michigan are seldom mentioned. However, a recent report by Pricewaterhousecoopers illustrates the positive impact the industry has had on our economy here in Michigan.
For starters, the report finds that 182,000 jobs in Michigan are supported by the oil and gas industry. That’s 3.6 percent of the state’s total employment. These jobs have an annual average salary of $75,492 (excluding gas stations) compared to an annual salary of $46,673 for the average Michigan worker. (PWC Report p.1) Many of these jobs are with the 295 vendors who provide equipment, materials and services to the industry across the state in all 14 congressional districts. (PWC Report p.2)
While these numbers are impressive, the benefits are not limited to economic data. When combined with industry-led technological advances in carbon reduction and the conversion of power plants to natural gas, the country as a whole has been able to develop more natural resources and reduce emissions. This positive impact on the environment is rarely mentioned by those opposed to the development of oil and gas. Even White House economic advisor Jason Furman has noted:
“At the same time that we have undergone this energy boom, we have also seen a 10 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2007 to 2013 — the largest absolute emissions reductions of any country in the world. While the recession was responsible for about half of these emissions reductions, the other half — which is still a large amount — is the result of the changing ways in which we produce and consume energy.” (p.1)
As the evidence continues to pile up about the safety of development, opponents of this process are left with fewer and fewer reasons for their opposition, other than their own ideology. A recent “landmark federal study” by the Department of Energy concluded (once again) that hydraulic fracturing does not harm water supplies, which should put the often stated claim of water contamination to rest.
While this may be news to some, it comes as no surprise to those who have looked at the overwhelming evidence that oil and gas development can be done while protecting the environment and helping nation’s economy get back on track.