Sunday, February 9, 2014

Logical inconsistencies in fracking articles

Article 1: Link here to the article titled "Panel of scientists say economic impact from fracking overstated"

A couple points of questionable logic in this article:

1. The title says: "Panel of scientists say economic impact from fracking overstated"

Why not have a panel of economists discuss the economic impact of fracking?  The title was correct - it was scientists.

2. The article says:
According to the panel's presentation during the hearing – held by Sen. Tony Avella, D – Queens, an outspoken critic of horizontal drilling – there are only two regions in the Marcellus Shale in New York that contain enough organic content to possibly produce high amounts of natural gas. 
If he's right, why do anti-fracking activists care?  There will be so little drilling that all the cries from the anti-fracking crowd would be unnecessary.  This seems logically inconsistent.  If it were unprofitable for gas drillers to drill in New York, they wouldn't.  The reason the critics are so loud in New York andwant to maintain a moratorium on drilling is they fear widespread fracking.

Article 2: Article titled "Drilling's Economic Impact Debated".

Excerpt 1 (with my comments):
“There’s no doubt that there is some economic benefit when shale comes to town, but it’s not long-lived,” she said. “What we found is you get about four years of benefit — maximum. And then it drops off.”
What areas are then left with, Rogers said, are expensive road damages and environmental impacts — caused by the natural gas companies — and no way of paying for repairs except to use taxpayer money.

In my research, I've found that people in northeastern Pennsylvania think their roads are in great shape  - much better than they were before fracking.  Rogers' perception isn't reality.   Further, there seems to be more jobs than there were pre-fracking, even if not quite as many as the boom.

Further - those jobs came at the exact perfect time - when the economy was at it's worst.  Fracking was a far more effective "stimulus plan" than anything the government has attempted recently.

Excerpt 2 (with my comments)
“It’s the typical boom-and-bust mentality,” she said.
John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute, said there’s an initial surge in natural gas production, but the economic benefits continue for decades, especially in the form of lower energy costs and payments from gas companies to landowners.
“This is an economic benefit that is going to continue for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Felmy is absolutely right.  The benefit of the low gas prices is huge for the US economy.  Worth tens of billions of dollars.

Excerpt 3 (with my comments)
On Tuesday, Keith, the M&T Bank regional economist, presented data that showed real personal income in Bradford, Tioga, Pa., and Lycoming counties is up 14 percent — double the 7 percent U.S. average and well above the 1.8 percent increase in Binghamton during that time.
But all three counties have a median household income that is at least $7,600 less annually than the Pennsylvania figure of $52,267, according to data from United States Census Bureau.
This is terrible analysis in the 2nd paragraph.  The word "But" here is awful.  What's the point of the reporter.  Is the reporter upset that fracking has helped an area that was down-on-its luck?  Does the reporter think it is bad they didn't help, say, a wealthy Connecticut county instead?  I doubt it.  I suspect the reporter is using this as a way to discredit the income gains.  The income gains in the three counties likely would have been close to the 1.8 percent in Binghamton if it weren't for fracking.  Fracking has mean 12% income growth for these counties.  That's absolutely enormous and it doesn't matter that these areas were are still are poorer than the national average.

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