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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Establishment of Shale Gas Exploration is a No Win Proposition

Sackville Tribune-Post    
4 November 2013 

At the close of 2013 enough credible information about oil and gas production has been accumulated to indicate that climate change is progressing, that coal, oil and gas exploration should be reduced over time and that any new exploration, like that proposed in N.B. and N.S. should be prohibited altogether. Despite this the effort to mine fossil fuels has never been more relentlessly pursued by industry than it is today.

We now know quite a bit about the environmental damage caused by coal mining, tar sands development, fracking for natural gas and the subsequent transportation of these hazardous products.  We know that cancer rates rise and public health suffers because air, water and land become contaminated in areas where there is drilling. We know that property value can decrease and that sustainable and long-term job creation provided by natural gas extraction is a myth. And we now know through U.S. state and municipal government statistics that the revenues from fracking, at all levels of government, not only do not provide substantial economic benefit,
but actually fall short of breaking even.

The following statistics, from each State Department of Transportation, detailing the cost of infrastructure damage in three American states are as follows:

STATE                              STATE INCOME      COST OF ROAD          DEFICIT
                                          (from impact fees)           REPAIRS            (costs not                                                                            covered 
                                         by revenue)
Texas              2012                   3.6 billion               4 billion                  400 million
Arkansas        since 2009           182 million          450 million                 286 million 
Pennsylvania  2012                    204 million          265 million                   61 million

When costs exceed revenue, sustainability is not possible.

The shale gas industry in the U.S. has touted the advantages of fracking, but they have failed to keep their promises.  Ten years later the U.S. Department of Labor has surveyed 32 U.S. counties in shalegas development areas.  Their findings between 2006 and 2010 include:

- 26 counties or 80% were below their state's average for retail sales.
- 30 counties or 94% were below their state's average for median income.
- 29 counties or 90% had weekly wages below the national average. 

The Political Economy Research Institute, University of Mass., has published statistics on job creation from shale gas and other resource development.  A one million dollar investment in each of the following industries results in the following number of jobs:

- NATURAL GAS                      5 JOBS                         
- COAL                                 7 JOBS
- WIND                               13 JOBS
- SOLAR                               14 JOBS
- BIOMASS                           16 JOBS

"The results suggest that each million dollars in gas production created 2.35 jobs in the county of production".*

"Renewables tend to be a more labor-intensive energy source than fossil fuels, which rely heavily on expensive pieces of production equipment.  A transition to renewables thus promises job gains".**

Over ten years of observing gas exploration in the U.S. tells us that the establishment of a shale gas industry pollutes the environment, endangers the public, mars the landscape and does not provide a fair return on investment, with revenues consistently lower than the cost incurred by gas production. 

Donna Mclellan for the
Tantramar Alliance Against Hydro-Fracking 

*The effects of a natural gas boom on employment and income in Colorado, Texas and Wyoming, Energy
Economics.  Jeremy G. Weber

**Jobs in Renewable Energy Expanding, Worldwatch Institute

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