Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 28, 2014

Forum: Shale 'boom' generates economic decline

The editorial reprinted May 20 from the Newcastle, Pa., News headlined “Shale Boom shows ability to generate jobs” once again puts forth the gas industry propaganda on the benefits of fracking with no documentation.

According to reports supplied by the industry’s own America’s Natural Gas Alliance to a 2010 IHS Global Insight report, 90 percent of the jobs occur during the pre- and drilling phase which lasts from one week to six months. Forty percent of the drilling companies hire from an international pool of experienced workers, not from local communities. This would be particularly true in Michigan and has been the case in Pennsylvania and North Dakota as well.

Yes, there are temporary jobs, but at a terrible cost. Most jobs will come later in cleaning up the devastation, if any money is available for that part. Those elusive jobs from fracking cannot be documented in the long run.

However, the abundance of jobs we need for our future could surely be supplied if we were to subsidize renewables, make them a priority, and get busy producing the infrastructure for them in all their forms.

The editorial mentions the industry is reshaping the economy in ways that might not be noticed. This is certainly true, but not due to the decades of boom promised by the industry. Production is in decline in Pennsylvania and North Dakota and will continue even if they are able to frack every inch of land rather quickly. Then what? We will have a landscape of abandoned wells, and be totally unprepared for life after fossil fuels.

Banks and economic experts know all this and have begun to act to protect themselves from the bursting bubble. A recent study by Duke University found, in Pennsylvania, that the risks far outweighed the benefits by reducing property values by as much as 24 percent due to the risk of contaminated water. Lending institutions are denying mortgages on properties with leases, equity loans are not available, insurance is canceled and rural property near drilling sites is no longer saleable. Check with Wells Fargo, Fidelity, GMAC and others on the conditions for their loans in areas where fracking has commenced.

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