CSID is hosting a panel discussion tonight on urban gas drilling in Denton, with panelists representing Texas state regulators and the petrochemical industry. Before I go, I’m reading something of a case study of some of the local economic effects of gas drilling in the Marcellus shale. I’ll return to the blog tomorrow to share some of what was said by the panel.
The gas boom is transforming small towns like [Montrose, Pennsylvania] (population 4,400 and growing) and revitalizing the economy of this once-forgotten stretch of rural northeastern Pennsylvania. The few hotels here have expanded, restaurants are packed and housing rentals have more than doubled.
“There’s been a snowball effect due to the gas companies coming in,” Mr. Diaz, 33, said recently at his bustling empire near here.
But the boom — brought on by an advanced drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking — has brought problems too. While the gas companies have created numerous high-paying drilling jobs, many residents lack the skills for them. Some people’s drinking water has been contaminated. Narrow country roads are crumbling under the weight of heavy trucks. With housing scarce and expensive, more residents are becoming homeless. Local services and infrastructure are strained.
“Very little tax revenue goes to local governments to help them share in the benefits of the economic development,” said Sharon Ward, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, an independent policy research organization.
And some are asking whether short-term gains have obscured the long-term view of an industry marked by boom-bust cycles.
“What happens in the long run is the critical question,” said Kathy Braiser, associate professor of rural sociology at Penn State. “How can communities take advantage of the benefits and try to mitigate the negative issues so that they are well-positioned for when this does tail off?”