Pages tagged "Economic Development News"
The State Journal - Wetzel County has always been a producer of natural gas, but a boom in the Marcellus Shale gas drilling really put it on the map for the Mountain State. Read
Since 2008, the county at the base of the Northern Panhandle saw an increase in drilling by 6,000 percent.
A recent collaborative research effort looking into the shale drilling was released to show the effects of the oil and gas industry on West Virginia, among other surrounding states.
The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, of which the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy participated in, released case studies April 10, which examined the impacts of shale oil and gas drilling in four active communities.
Read the case studies HERE.
The study looked at Carroll County in Ohio, Greene and Tioga counties in Pennsylvania and Wetzel County in West Virginia.
West Virginia is unique in that companies have been taking actions to sever surface rights from mineral rights, meaning some individuals do not own the mineral right so their land. This means some residents don't have control over fracking on their property and are limited in being compensated from the oil and gas companies.
"Overall, the impact is unclear with how much royalty payments are flowing in," said Sean O'Leary, fiscal policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "Local officials will note jobs in gas industry are going to out of state workers."
Wheeling Intelligencer - The impact of the natural gas boom in Wetzel County - both good and bad - pales in comparison to other Tri-State area counties also experiencing a surge in drilling activity, according to a report released Thursday by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative. Read
The report includes case studies from Wetzel County and three other active gas-producing counties - Carroll in Ohio and Greene and Tioga in Pennsylvania. Those four were selected based on being largely rural counties with lower-than-average income and higher-than-average unemployment when compared with the rest of their respective states, said Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
Contact: Sean O'Leary at firstname.lastname@example.org or Linda Frame at email@example.com. or 304-720-8682
Case Studies Compare Impacts Across Multi-State Region
– The boom in Marcellus Shale gas drilling is having a wide-ranging impact, especially across West Virginia and into Ohio and Pennsylvania. An in-depth look at four counties, two in Pennsylvania and one each in Ohio and West Virginia, shines a light on what an increase in gas drilling means for local communities. Read PDF of news release.
The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, of which the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is a member, released case studies today examining the impacts of shale oil and gas drilling on four active drilling communities — Carroll County, Ohio; Greene & Tioga counties, Pa.; and Wetzel County, W.Va.
The case studies, informed by the latest data and local interviews, examine how shale drilling is playing a role in local economic development, housing, traffic and infrastructure, education, emergency services, and several other areas.
"The natural gas industry has brought changes, both good and bad to Wetzel County, but an even more interesting story is what hasn't changed. As more unconventional drilling occurs, communities like Wetzel County will need to be proactive to get the most out of the developing industry," said Sean O'Leary, Fiscal Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
The Collaborative anticipates its findings will be used by community leaders to help them prepare for the impacts of future gas drilling in their area.
While the impacts of gas drilling in Wetzel County have been less than in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the community was still caught off-guard as the boom hit. Traffic and road damage have emerged as the primary concerns from a taskforce created by county leaders. The group continues to meet regularly and is likely key to why the community has weathered the changes better than others.
The promise of more jobs in this already hard-hit area, however, has fallen flat. Wetzel County still suffers from double-digit unemployment despite having some of the highest natural gas production in the region.
"In Wetzel County the Marcellus shale boom has brought some growth but less development," said Ted Boettner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "This highlights why it is so important for communities to enact policies that ensure that they are better off, not worse off, after the drilling subsides."
The case studies are available online at http://multistateshale.org.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT: The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative is conducting in-depth research and interviews to produce trend analyses, policy recommendations, and other resources on the impacts of drilling in the Marcellus and Utica Shale.
Member organizations include the Fiscal Policy Institute of New York, Policy Matters Ohio, Keystone Research Center/Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in Virginia, and West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek - Natalie Tennant, the presumptive Democratic nominee for West Virginia's open U.S. Senate seat, got an earful visiting a company where workers said President Barack Obama's environmental policies threaten their jobs. Read
"I'll fight it," Tennant said of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule affecting coal-fired power plants during a campaign stop at McBride Electrical Inc., a Welch, West Virginia company that builds power lines for coal producers. "You have to have somebody who will stand up."
Her outspoken opposition to the policies of a president of her own party reflects the unique politics of coal-mining states, which keep Congress stocked with industry allies even as mining jobs wane. In Kentucky, another coal state, Democrat Alison Grimes is siding with the industry as she battles for the seat of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
The New Yorker - On the morning of Thursday, January 9, 2014, the people of Charleston, West Virginia, awoke to a strange tang in the air off the Elk River. It smelled like licorice. The occasional odor is part of life in Charleston, the state capital, which lies in an industrial area that takes flinty pride in the nickname Chemical Valley. In the nineteenth century, natural brine springs made the region one of America's largest producers of salt. The saltworks gave rise to an industry that manufactured gunpowder, antifreeze, Agent Orange, and other "chemical magic," as The Saturday Evening Post put it, in 1943. The image endured. Today, the Chemical Valley Roller Girls compete in Roller Derby events with a logo of a woman in fishnet stockings and a gas mask. After decades of slow decline, the local industry has revived in recent years, owing to the boom in cheap natural gas, which has made America one of the world's most inexpensive places to make chemicals. Read
Scranton Times-Tribute - Has natural gas drilling been the economic game changer that industry leaders promised? Not according to the most reliable analysis. Read
A recent study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that looked at job growth in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale found it to be a very small slice of the overall economy. Industry studies have claimed job growth significantly higher.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave us some insight in 2012 when its chief spokeswoman offered that the campaign goal was "to ensure no hindrance or regulatory barrier to shale development." Fracking proponents offer the promise of jobs in exchange for limited regulation and taxation.
How many people are coming to work in the shale industry? Will they bring families? How long will they stay? Reliable numbers allow communities to plan for the challenges ahead.
The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, uniting policy organizations in the Marcellus and Utica shales states to assess drilling's impacts, has taken a close look at the number of jobs created.
The collaborative's estimates are similar to those reported by state agencies and in the recent BLS report.
No such agreement exists on the broader jobs impact of drilling. In many cases, industry-funded studies and fracking proponents have exaggerated the benefits.
Between 2005 and 2012, 33,000 new jobs directly related to shale extraction were created within the six states. Pennsylvania has two-thirds of these jobs, but shale is a small share of an economy with 5.7 million jobs.
Education and health care are far more important to the region's economy, employing 4.5 million people. One in six jobs are in education or health care compared to one in 800 in shale extraction.
Extraction activity cushioned a handful of counties from the worst impacts of the recession. Even then, some non-drilling counties grew more quickly. Greene County was the only shale county among the top 10 for employment growth. New York, despite a moratorium on gas extraction, had the greatest job growth.
The industry has created some good-paying jobs in counties with intensive drilling activity, but the employment growth has had little impact on the six states' overall economies.
Shale development has created jobs at companies supplying drillers, and at businesses where employees and leaseholders spend their shale earnings. Looking at more than a dozen independent studies, we found total job gains at about twice the number of directly related shale jobs. Industry-funded studies have estimates as much as seven times higher.
Assumptions in industry-funded studies artificially inflate jobs at suppliers and local businesses.
Industry supporters also have misused government jobs data to echo inflated job claims. In Pennsylvania, shale boosters routinely count all jobs in a state report of 30 ancillary industries as "supported by" shale. But these are broad industries, such as trucking, construction, and industrial machinery wholesalers, for which shale drillers are a tiny fraction of the customer base. About 200,000 jobs existed in these industries before fracking began. About 200,000 exist now. Counting every UPS driver and the rest of the 200,000 jobs as "supported by shale" is pure nonsense.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry should stop publishing data on "ancillary" jobs. A six-state commission should be formed to develop a method for tracking employment.
It is time to take factual questions on shale's jobs impact out of the political arena. Our citizens need information they can trust.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia share a lot in common, including job markets, highways, rolling hills, watersheds and natural resources. In some places, shale wells in close proximity to each other are in different states.
Yet each of our three states has taken a vastly different approach to taxing oil and gas drilling. Pennsylvania has a small drilling impact fee rather than a severance tax, while Ohio has a low, volume-based tax and West Virginia a conventional severance tax based on value. West Virginia’s rate is in the middle of the pack when it comes to severance taxes in the lower 48 states.
Suppose our three states got on the high road to economic development, taking a unified and coherent approach to tax policy to benefit the entire region and its residents?
That is the vision we have and why we are calling on the governors of our three states to support a severance tax with a rate no lower than that of West Virginia — without tax holidays, exclusions or credits.
All three states have experienced a rapid increase in shale drilling over the past five years, bringing some new jobs but also growing costs associated with spills, increased demand for emergency services, a rapid jump in housing costs and increased road maintenance needs. An adequate severance tax will ensure that industry contributes to these costs and that they aren’t passed on to other taxpayers.
A common tax rate and structure would provide predictability for the industry and bring the region more in line with gas-producing states in the West and the South. Most important, a common approach would take taxes out of the competitive equation.
Legislation has been introduced in Ohio and Pennsylvania to put more adequate severance taxes in place, and the issue is already playing a prominent role in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election.
A severance tax in the Keystone State could go a long way to repair the damage from years of budget cuts. Pennsylvania could use severance tax dollars to better protect its environment, invest in public schools and colleges, and support programs that train workers to meet the demands of the changing economy.
The current fragmented approach to drilling taxes in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia has fueled a climate of interstate competition for the lowest tax rate. It is a race to the bottom that profits drillers at the expense of our states’ residents.
West Virginia’s severance tax rate, at 5 percent of the value of gas plus a small production-based assessment, has not deterred shale drillers. Most gas-producing states in the West and the South have severance tax rates that are higher than West Virginia’s. This is where discussions around a tax rate should start, not end.
In all three states, as well as in western states like Texas and North Dakota, drilling companies pay other business taxes. This should not be a factor in determining an appropriate severance tax. Severance taxes are specifically designed to recompense residents for precious natural resources that can be removed from the land just once, as well as for specific environmental, economic, and social costs associated with that removal.
We hope Governors Corbett, Kasich, and Tomblin will recognize what the elected leaders of most other energy-rich states do: That all residents in our region should benefit from the bounty of drilling.
Our state capitals may be hundreds of miles apart, but when it comes to shale drilling, our states are a lot closer than we think. Let’s acknowledge that and do all we can to maximize the benefits of shale drilling without putting our communities at risk.
Sharon Ward is the director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. Wendy Patton is senior project director of Policy Matters Ohio. Ted Boettner is the executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy.
Wheeling Intelligencer - West Virginia's newly created Future Fund could still be sitting empty five years from now unless the state finds a way to grow its Rainy Day Fund by about $126 million by then, according to West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Executive Director Ted Boettner. Read
During the final days of the Legislature's regular session, the House of Delegates attached a number of conditions to state Senate President Jeff Kessler's Future Fund bill that will make it difficult to invest any money in it for the forseeable future. It's all but certain nothing will flow into the fund during the next fiscal year, as one House constraint - dipping into the state's $922 million Rainy Day Fund in order to balance the budget - is likely to be met within days when the Legislature passes the fiscal year 2015 budget. -
Think Progress - If there's one thing January's massive chemical spill in West Virginia taught Jeremy Richardson, it's this: no matter what his power bill says every month, coal is "not cheap." Read
"This was a chemical used to process coal," said Richardson, senior energy analyst and West Virginia specialist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It really points to the need to not have all of our economic activity reliant on just one or two things."
The spill that contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians has reignited debate in the state, not just over the need for stricter chemical and coal industry regulations but how the state's reliance on these industries is affecting its residents and environment.
WESA Public Radio - Policy and research groups from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio have joined forces to urge their states' governors to adopt a common severance tax rate for companies drilling for gas and oil in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations. Read
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Policy Matters Ohio and the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Monday sent a letter to Govs. Tom Corbett, John Kasich and Earl Ray Tomblin, saying the three states should set severance tax rates no lower than that of West Virginia. West Virginia currently has the highest rate of taxation among the three neighboring states, with a 5 percent tax on the value of oil and gas extracted at the well head, and a volume tax of nearly 5 cents per thousand cubic feet of production.