Frac’ing busts air, water, land, caprock, communities, families, and Pennsylvania school district finances; Despite promises of frac prosperity, many school districts continue to struggle financially, a struggle that appears worsened by frac’ing.

Fracking has led to a ‘bust’ for Pennsylvania school district finances by Matthew Gardner Kelly and Kai A. Schafft, Feb 1, 2020, Pennsylvania Capital-Staremail hidden; JavaScript is required

Several Democratic presidential candidates have called for new limitations on the practice because of environmental and other concerns. Two of the leading candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have promised to ban fracking if elected.

Opponents of these restrictions insist these bans would devastate the economies of states like Pennsylvania. [Humans are much too intelligent, when they want to be, and innovative to let the end of frac’ing devastate economies. Healthier, cleaner, and safer jobs would quickly fill the void and improve economies.] …

As educational researchers in the Keystone state, we recently conducted a study on the impact of unconventional gas development on the financial resources of the Pennsylvania’s school districts.

We found that fracking had largely negative impacts on affected school districts.

… Fracking advocates argue that its economic benefits can benefit communities. Some of the most productive areas for drilling overlap with some of the poorest and most rural areas of the state.

This is where oil and gas companies focused their energies between 2007 – the start of the boom – and 2015.

Negative impacts in mostly rural school districts

We looked in particular at data between 2007 and 2015, from the beginning of fracking in Pennsylvania, through the boom and into the decline in drilling.

During this period, we found only about 10% of gas drilling occurred in Pennsylvania’s suburban school districts, even though they account for nearly half of all districts.

On the other hand, only slightly more than a third of the state’s school districts are rural. Yet nearly two-thirds of the unconventional drilling occurred in those places.

We wanted to know, as well, how fracking was affecting Pennsylvania’s school districts.

Contrary to the predictions of gas industry advocates, we found that it had largely negative impacts. Adjusting for a host of factors that can impact funding, districts where fracking occurred had lower per pupil incomes, real estate values and property tax revenues.

Although we found a modest increase in state and federal revenues wherever fracking was taking place, these increases were not large enough to counterbalance the average negative effects.

School districts that experienced unconventional drilling had US$1,550.50 less per pupil in 2015 dollars, relative to otherwise similar districts that did not have unconventional drilling.

For the typical school district, $1,550 fewer dollars per pupil can easily mean the loss of resources that can increase outcomes and opportunities for children.

Drilling decreases advantages

Based on the evidence we reviewed, we found that unconventional drilling has had mixed outcomes within the mostly rural and economically disadvantaged communities where fracking has taken place.

Despite promises that unconventional gas production would be an engine of economic opportunity, many Pennsylvania school districts continue to struggle financially, a struggle that appears to be worsened by gas development.

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