Is shale development worth the costs? A CMU study says no. Research finds shale gas jobs don’t offset damage done by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec 8, 2019
Although the massive shale gas build-out in the Appalachian Basin has produced significant economic benefits, a new Carnegie Mellon University study says all the drilling, fracking and cracking isn’t worth the environmental, health and climate damage.
The study estimates air pollution from shale gas development activities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia from 2004 to 2016 resulted in 1,200 to 4,600 premature deaths in the region, and while most of the added employment occurred in rural areas, most of the health impacts were felt in urban areas.
“It’s a rural job phenomenon with urban health impacts,” said Nicholas Muller, associate professor of economics, engineering and public policy at CMU and one of five study authors. “That’s the trade-off. How are regulators able to evaluate that trade?”
… The study is the first to put dollar values on some of the external and cumulative costs of shale gas development, and could help better evaluate the positive and negative impacts, said Jared Cohon, former CMU president and one of the study authors.
… Specifically, the study looked at public health, environmental impacts and climate change in assessing the industry impact.
Premature deaths had an economic toll of $23 billion, based on mid-range calculations that were the median and most likely outcomes of a wide range of potential results. according to the peer-reviewed study, which appeared in the Nov. 18 journal Nature Sustainability.
The shale gas trade-off
Climate impacts produced mid-range costs of an additional $34 billion based on emissions from 2004 to 2016 and those will persist generations longer than gas industry jobs, the study found. The jobs and related economic benefits have an estimated mid-range value of $21 billion, based on employment calculations in counties throughout the region.
Meanwhile, the study found that the cumulative impacts of natural gas development on water and air quality, ecosystem, climate, labor markets and public health “are still largely unexplored and unaccounted for in public and private decision-making.”
… For example, according to the study, for every three job years created by the industry (three people each working one year or one working three years), one year of life is lost for a resident in the region. That means someone died a year prematurely due to increased pollution exposure for every three years of employment in the shale gas industry.
“Jobs are important but you have to look at the whole picture and that’s the context this paper tries to provide,” Mr. Muller said. “Who’s comfortable with the calculation of a life shortened by a year for every three [years of employment] created?”
… The study’s scope is limited. It doesn’t look at the air quality benefits that might result from using natural gas instead of coal [But peer-reviewed research has already proven frac’d natural gas is not cleaner than coal], or what the use of the gas is substituting for. The study also does not take into account premature deaths avoided by using gas instead of coal for electric power generation.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the region’s shale gas trade and lobbying organization, did not comment on specifics of the CMU study, but responded by touting widespread economic benefits and deep concern for and commitment to the region’s environment and public health and safety. [How considerate! Industry expressing “concern” while killing people with its pollution. “Concern” does not fix the premature deaths or the pollutions and endless harms and industry’s rampant greed is unlikely to take a kind turn.]
“All energy sources and industries carry associated impacts and varying trade-offs, and we believe firmly — as reflected in a broad and overwhelming body of independent research and analysis, including recent (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) air quality data that’s been covered by the Post-Gazette — that natural gas is unquestionably enhancing our environment and air quality, boosting job creation and making Americans more secure,” [While killing nearly thousands of people? Unquestionably twisting the truth to keep polluting] the coalition’s emailed statement said.
“These benefits continue to cascade positively across our entire economy, especially as it related to manufacturing and power generation.” [Bankruptcy after bankruptcy after bankruptcy benefits (but only for upper manangement), with companies intentionally walking from clean up across the continent]
The DEP air quality study cited in the coalition’s statement, which was released in July 2018, used data collected at four sites surrounded by natural gas wells, compressor stations and processing facilities in Washington County in 2012 and 2013. [Since when do oil patch and frac enablers like deregulators tell the truth or run integral honest studies or monitoring programs?] That study found limited air quality impacts at those four sites and minimal public health risks.
The findings were called into question by state and federal agencies because of problems with missing data, malfunctioning equipment and monitoring sites that were not located downwind from shale gas facilities they were supposed to monitor.
Matt Mehalik, executive director of the Breathe Project, a collaborative of 39 environmental, academic and health organizations, said the new CMU research is “groundbreaking in its scope,” and clearly shows that even as the shale gas industry was rapidly expanding over the past decade, it wasn’t covering its health and environmental impacts.
“The bottom line for me is that they did an analysis of the boom period of development that has already happened and found the petrochemical industry was an economic loser in the region to the tune of tens of billions of dollars,” Mr. Mehalik said. …
Refer also to:
Pennsylvania escalating youth cancers in frac fields, Excellent response to Marcellus Shale Coalition’s latest propaganda: “We get it Mr. Spigelmyer, your job is to sell fracking…. We know the facts on the carcinogens your industry produces as do you, the endocrine disrupting chemicals it hides, and all the gagged litigants who held the smoking guns.”
8-year frac health study shows fracking associated with increased asthma attacks: “Those who lived closer to a large number or bigger active natural gas wells were significantly more likely…to suffer asthma attacks” … “The highest risk for asthma attacks occurred in people living a median of about 12 miles from drilled wells. The lowest risk was for people living a median of about 40 miles away.”
We believe that “safe” development of shale gas is not possible at this time using existing technologies. Were the DEC objective and inclusive of evidence and facts, it would come to the same conclusion