New Project Maps out the Folly of Local Fracking Bans
This week, the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), a non-profit think tank launched a map that tracks hydraulic fracturing bans throughout the U.S., showing that areas with bans, or contemplating bans, could pose impediments to our nation’s economic growth and energy security. As NCPA Executive Vice President/ COO Jacki Pick explained in the press release,
“Fracking bans and prohibitive fracking regulations are a threat to this country’s economic recovery and superpower status. Enhanced energy production through fracking can help the U.S. revive its economy with unprecedented growth, greatly reduce the national debt and trade deficit, and ensure that we maintain our influence on the world stage.” (emphasis added)
NCPA isn’t the only group to find that fracking bans could potentially derail the vast economic growth that could have otherwise been achieved from unrestricted U.S. shale development. As noted by a 2014 study by IHS CERA:
Employment related to unconventional oil and gas production in these supply chain industries totaled 524,000 jobs in 2012 and is expected to grow 45 percent to 757,000 jobs in 2025.
These economic benefits have already begun to profit states such as Ohio, which has been home to $22.3 billion in investment since it began developing it resources in 2011. This investment has, in turn, brought local jobs to Ohioans and decreased the state’s unemployment rate by 66 percent since 2010.
However, local ballot measures against fracking – like those introduced (and subsequently defeated) in Ohio and Illinois have become a favorite tool of activists trying to stop shale development. These ballot initiatives are costly to local tax payers and may force towns into municipal bankruptcy, in fact the Executive Director of CELDF (the activist group behind these ballot initiatives) stated in a recent interview that:
“The first [piece] of advice he dishes out to interested towns and countries is that they must be prepared to accept municipal bankruptcy as the worst-case scenario.”
The problem is, the CELDF wants these counties to accept this bankruptcy for a cause that is routinely rejected by State Supreme Courts. According to Judge Judy French in the Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-485:
“R.C. Chapter 1509 regulates oil and gas wells and production operations in Ohio. While it preserves certain powers for local governments, it gives the state government “sole and exclusive authority” to regulate permitting, location, and spacing of oil and gas wells and production operations within the state R.C. 1509.02. In this case, we decide whether the Home Rule Amendment to the Ohio Constitution grants the city of Monroe Falls power to enforce its own permitting scheme atop the state system. We hold that it does not.”
Essentially, these courts deny the assertion that local governments have the authority to block drilling activities that are permitted by the state. In her discussion of these bans Ms. Pick noted that these,
“Campaigns to ban fracking too often are based on questionable research, and are progressively choking development in exchange for illusory benefit.”
Indeed, stopping such development based on scientifically unproven, alarmist claims, could be detrimental to the United States’ ability maintain its influence on the world stage.