Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dr. Barth: Shale Studies Flawed

Economist Jannette Barth says reports of the positive economic impacts of drilling in the Marcellus Shale are flawed. Barth made her comments this week while speaking at the People’s Oil and Gas Summit in Greentree. The environmental group Earthworks organized the event. Barth says she is suspect of studies that have come out in recent years for a long list of reasons.

Barth says she questions the validity of research that came out of Penn State University because it was funded by oil and gas companies or their foundations. Barth says other studies looked at only part of the picture. She points to the he Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, “The SGEIS ignores likely declines in other industries that may result from both pollution and a shift to an industrial landscape. These industries include agriculture, tourism, wine making, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and river recreation.” She says all those industries do a better job at building a strong local economy than gas related jobs.

Barth points to other studies that base their findings on data from economic and environmental activity in the Barnett Shale formation in Texas, which she says is like comparing apples to oranges. “The labor force in Texas has the requisite skill set due to its long history of oil and gas drilling there,” says Barth, “We saw that Pennsylvania has imported 70% of its gas drilling labor force, the imported labor is often temporary and transient, sending most of their income back to other states. Maybe Texas.” Barth says gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale may actually result in negative economic growth.

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