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7-Conclusion

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Published on Sep 23, 2010

Is Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling A Cure for Upstate New York's Economic Woes? Part 7 of 7. Bill Podulka summarizes the methodology and key findings in six different reports about the economic impacts of gas drilling and resource extraction. One class of reports (2 produced by researchers at Penn State and one prepared by Texas researchers for Broome County) make some optimistic assumptions and depend on an economic model that does not consider any possible negative impacts on existing businesses, leading to very rosy scenarios for economic growth. Possible negative impacts include inflationary pressures, competition for labor, environmental degradation, infrastructure damage, and impaired health. In contrast to these rosy scenarios, studies that have looked at impacts on real economies show a much more mixed picture. It's not that there are never any positive results, but historically it's more likely for the results to be negative rather than positive. A paper published in a respected academic journal that reviewed several decades of research found that, depending on the economic measure used, only one-sixth to one-half of the economies studied were positively impacted by significant resource extraction. A recent study of counties in the western US that looked at the impacts of energy extraction in particular found that "energy-focusing" counties performed less well than similar counties that weren't "energy focusing." A report on recent (since 2000) gas drilling in Sublette County, Wyoming found some positive signs (unemployment down and wages up) but also negative signs (inflation up, rental costs skyrocketing, and costs to local governments wiping out and sometimes exceeding increased tax revenue). An important question is how comparable the studied areas (all very rural) are to upstate New York. Tentative results from cases excluded from the review paper mentioned above because they were not rural enough, plus trends in Western US economies making them less rural, suggest that upstate New York's mixed economy of agriculture, tourism, and education might be more vulnerable, rather than less vulnerable, than more strictly rural areas to negative impacts from gas drilling.

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