The Facts Behind Frac’ing

Many arguments that are anti-frac'ing fall flat in the face of facts (or lack thereof). The Consumer Energy Alliance, a tireless advocate for the economic benefits that domestic energy production brings, has recently provided the studies needed to back these arguments up.

Last week, a series of reports confirmed just how significant energy production can have on the economy.  In South Texas, increased activity in the Eagle Ford Shale last year contributed over $25 billion in economic impact.  This translates to 47,000 new jobs in the twenty-county region as well as $615 million in state and local tax revenue.  The Center for Community and Business Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio study further concluded that South Texas has only seen the start of an economic boom.  Within the next decade, the Eagle Ford will support 117,000 full-time jobs.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the Marcellus Shale has similarly led to huge economic gains.  Even with natural gas prices reaching new lows this year, Marcellus shale development generated about $4.7 billion in revenues for drillers, of which about $400 million went to property owners in the Keystone state. The Associated Press adds that, despite low natural gas prices, the region's economy stands to grow in the future thanks to the influx of money and jobs generated by the petrochemical companies that process the gas into a myriad of industrial and consumer products, such as plastics and fertilizers.

It's not just America's oil and gas producers generating these success stories.  A recent report from Environmental Entrepreneurs notes that over 130 newly announced projects in renewable and alternative energy sector could create 46,000 jobs nationally.  The biggest growth comes from the utility sector where power plants across American have begun diversifying generation from biomass, wind, solar and greater efficiency.  On the manufacturing front, Michigan – a state hit particularly hard by the recession – is now on the verge of becoming an energy powerhouse.  Just in the past few months, General Motors has announced new fuel-efficient and electric vehicle factories while Dow Chemical plans to construct a solar shingle roof factory in the Wolverine State.

While these reports do a great job at quantifying the impact of American energy production, we must be reminded that this kind of growth does not occur overnight.  Operators need the technology that enables these energy resources to be produced in an efficient, environmentally friendly manner, and investors require assurances of sound, predictable regulations to ensure the competitiveness of their businesses.