Study: Fracking ban would hurt Pennsylvania economy


A ban on hydraulic fracturing would hit Pennsylvania’s economy hard, according to a study released Thursday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Researchers predict the state would lose roughly 609,000 jobs and $261 billion in gross domestic product by 2025 if lawmakers were to issue an outright ban on fracking. The average Pennsylvania consumer would see his cost of living increase by $4,654, while household income would decrease by $114 billion by 2025, according to the study.

A number of Democratic presidential candidates, including front-runners Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and U.S Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, say they’d eliminate the process of fracking if elected in 2020. This has alarmed industry and labor leaders, although environmental groups remain firm in their opposition to the practice — arguing it increases the risk of contaminated groundwater, air pollution, gas explosions and man-made earthquakes.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, recently introduced a resolution reaffirming that presidents cannot unilaterally ban fracking on state and private land.

Pennsylvania’s gas output has grown substantially in recent years as companies tap into the region’s immense Marcellus and Utica shale reserves. Natural gas is now responsible for roughly 35 percent of Pennsylvania’s power generation.

“As the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas, we have seen firsthand the extensive benefits that the development of this natural resource has brought to Pennsylvania,” said Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. ”...This new study should give pause to all of those who advocate for banning the development of natural gas, which would be devastating for our state.”

The study, titled “What If Hydraulic Fracturing Was Banned? The Economic Benefits of the Shale Revolution and the Consequences of Ending It,” examined monetary transactions within the economy between different industries, the government and households. The report provides national impacts of a fracking ban, as well as state-specific impacts for five energy-producing states — Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, and two states with limited energy production, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Nationally, the analysis predicts that a ban on fracking would eliminate 19 million jobs between 2021 and 2025 and reduce U.S. GDP by $7.1 trillion during that time. Energy prices would skyrocket, too, according to the study, with natural gas prices rising by 324 percent. By 2025, the price of gasoline would double and government revenues would plummet by almost $1.9 trillion, researchers said.

“Increased oil and gas production driven by hydraulic fracturing has been fueling America’s sustained period of growth over the past decade, while making us both cleaner and stronger,” said Marty Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber’s Global Energy Institute. “Our study shows that banning fracking would have a catastrophic effect on our economy, inducing the equivalent of a major recession and raising the cost of living for everyone across the country.”