Shale Development is not Worth the Risks
A Carnegie Mellon University study has found that despite the economic benefits that shale development brings to the region, it is not worth the negative effects. From 2004 to 2016, air pollution from shale gas development in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia caused 1,200 to 4,600 premature deaths. The jobs added were in rural areas, but the negative impacts were seen by the more urban areas. Until now, dollar values have not been assigned to gas development. Using these numbers, researchers can compare the negatives and positives of fracking in the region.
Employment is the major benefit of fracking while the major cost is the impact to the environment. To make the comparisons, public health, environmental impacts, and climate change were looked at to see the overall impact of the industry in the area. One major issue is premature deaths, which costs a median value of $23 billion. The mid-range costs of climate impacts was $34 billion from 2014 to 2016 alone, which is going to last much longer than the jobs in the area. The jobs have a value of $21 billion for the area. It has been concluded though that the impacts on the water and air quality, ecosystem, climate, labor markets, and public health has not been explored enough and needs to be explored more.
The majority of impacts were studied as a result of natural gas development, which helps compare environmental and pollution damage to any economic benefits. For every three job years (one person working a job three years or three people working each one year) one person dies as a result of this activity. This means that one person dies for every three years of employment that is created. This tradeoff is clearly very negative.
To help, there is a recommended production cost of $2 for every 1,000 cubic feet of gas. This helps offset the air quality and climate change effects. This would be a very different change because the shale gas industry has paid eight cents per 1,000 cubic feet. The shale gas industry will obviously oppose this.
There are problems with the study, especially because it does not look at the environmental benefits of burning natural gas over other polluters. It also does not look at deaths avoided by burning natural gas over the alternatives.