More than a decade after the fracking boom in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia began, the prosperity its proponents promised never materialized for local communities, according to a new report from the Ohio River Valley Institute, based in Johnstown, Penn. Between 2008 and 2019, in the 22 counties that account for 90% of the methane gas extraction in those states, jobs, personal income gains, and population growth lagged far behind national, and even their state averages. Jobs in those counties increased by just 1.7%, while job numbers grew by 10% nationally. The report does not include the damage done to the fracking industry by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Marcellus and Utica fracking boom caused economic output in the 22 counties to increase by 60% between 2008-2019, the report found just 10% of the wealth from methane gas extraction stayed local. “It’s the region that should have theoretically benefited the most from development,” Sean O’Leary, a native of Wheeling, West Virginia, and senior researcher on the report, told the Columbus Dispatch. But while the fracking industry promised to be an engine for local economic prosperity, O’Leary told Mountain Spotlight, “there is no basis on which we can see that it even can be, going into the future.”
The report’s analysis also did not include negative health externalities. An August 2020 literature review conducted by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York found 2,015 studies indicating harm or potential harm from fracking. (Mountain Spotlight and InsideClimate News, Environmental Health News, Columbus Dispatch, WOUB Public Media, KDKA, Pittsburgh CityPaper, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, DeSmog)