New Study Finds Fracking Brings “Enormous Benefits” to Local Economies

Fracking is generating “enormous benefits” to local economies — and to average households “by roughly $1,300 to $1,900 per year” — according to a new report from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, the University of Chicago and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). As a research summary released alongside the study explains:

“Counties with a high level of hydraulic fracturing experience marked increases in economic activity. Specifically, the study found up to a 7 percent increase in average income, driven by increases in wages and other factors such as royalty payments from the drilling to local land owners. Employment also increased about 10 percent, with a 40 percent increase alone in natural resources and mining jobs. The construction and transportation industries also saw an increase, while no industries experienced job losses.

Calling their work the “most comprehensive assessment to date,” the group looked at the economic benefits of fracking across nine shale regions, while also factoring in costs associated with energy development such as increased truck traffic into their conclusions. And even when those costs were factored in, the group concludes “that the average local benefits from hydraulic fracturing outweigh the costs.” From the research summary:

“The application of hydraulic fracturing to develop oil and natural gas found in shale deposits has led to a sharp increase in U.S. energy production and generated enormous benefits, including abruptly lower energy prices, a reduced trade deficit, stronger energy security and even lower carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector.” (emphasis added)

The study also finds significant benefits on a national scale, including increased energy security and lower trade deficits resulting from domestic energy production. Also from the research summary:

“Higher levels of domestic energy production have also cut the trade deficit and increased energy security by reducing the amount of fuel purchased abroad. A decade ago, the U.S. imported 60 percent of its net liquid fuel needs. Last year, it imported just 24 percent. Combined with lower prices, this has sharply reduced U.S. expenditure on oil imports, which had averaged more than half of the trade deficit from 2008 to 2013. The net result was a $304 billion reduction in capital outflows in 2015 compared to 2008.” (emphasis added)

Also noteworthy within the study is further evidence that anti-fracking activists’ frequent claims that shale development is lowering home values simply is simply not true. From the study:

“The estimates indicate that median and mean housing values for owner-occupied homes increased by 5.7 percent due to fracing. Further, the median price of mobile homes increased by almost 8 percent.”

The study continues:

“Overall, we conclude that the initiation of fracing led to meaningful increases in housing prices in counties especially amenable to fracing, relative to other counties in the same shale play.” (emphasis added)

In conducting their research, the authors looked at the potential impacts increased shale development has on local governments and quality of life. These include increased demands on infrastructure such as roads and health services and a “marginally significant” increase in crime. But even with these factors taken into account, the authors conclude:

“Despite the heterogeneity, the overall trend is clear… All in all, the current data shows that on average the overall benefits to local communities outweigh the costs.”” (emphasis added)

This latest report is just further evidence as to how far out of touch “Keep it In The Ground” activists have become. It is clear that while these groups crisscross the country staging fake accidents and disrupting federal business, the very thing they are protesting is actually delivering significant benefits to the people who live closest to oil and natural gas development. Of course, that is likely why elected Democrats and Republicans alike are staying far away from their radical agenda.


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