Saturday, April 3, 2010

New report shows natural gas economic impact will be minimal

Paper counters other assessments on subject
By Tom Wilber
April 1, 2010

And now for another educated guess about what the Marcellus Shale will do to the economy: Not much.

That's from Jannette M. Barth, president of J.M. Barth & Associates, Inc., an economic research and consulting firm in Croton-on-Hudson.

In a paper released last week, Barth looked at employment and demographic information in areas where drilling has flourished in New York, Pennsylvania and western states. Unlike a study commissioned by Broome County and another at Penn State sponsored by the gas drilling industry, Barth's assessment suggested economic benefits from drilling will be underwhelming, at best. Using Pennsylvania as an example, she cited employment data that show the oil and gas extraction industry has historically produced less than 3,000 jobs a year, although it's been well established for decades. The number of Walmart employees in the state, by comparison, was 48,777.

In New York, her analysis showed income and employment data ... vastly different from two other studies. One,commissioned by Broome County and released last year, projected a $14 billion impact if 4,000 wells were drilled within the county's borders. Another 2009 Penn State study, sponsored by the industry, forecast nearly 175,000 jobs annually and more than $13 billion in added value. That study ... also warned that taxes and regulations threaten to "stunt" the industry and hurt the overall tax base.

"The studies used to support the claim that drilling will bring economic benefits to New York are either biased, dated, seriously flawed, or simply not applicable to the region that would be affected,"
said Barth, who holds master's and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Maryland.
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