Every night, during the evening news, we are treated to heartfelt government advertisements about separated families. Let’s bring those boys home so they can work here. We’re all for that…however…the facts do not support the promises.
First, let’s look at worker safety: In the States, oil and gas industry has 7 times more fatalities than any other industry. Are things different here?
In Alberta, between 2000 and 2010 – 1,285 workers were killed on the job. In three subsequent years, between 123 and 154 died each year.
What about job numbers? The Business Council study promoted by govt and industry promised us 21.5 jobs per well, or three times the number actually produced in Pennsylvania. The researchers did not even look at existing well fields in Penobsquis (6 employees) or Stoney Creek (2 employees).
Let’s take a look at Pennsylvania, where they claim the industry created 30,000 and 50,000 jobs. To accomplish this they drilled 7,200 wells. Do the math: This means that the industry created a maximum of 7 jobs per well.
Compare this to the state of Massachusetts, which produced 80,000 clean energy jobs in 5,500 different companies in less time than it took oil and gas to destroy the Pennsylvania countryside. These jobs were distributed throughout the entire state – unlike shale jobs, which are concentrated where the gas is being drilled. It also found that the jobs crossed all sectors of the economy – construction labor, skilled tradesmen, business managers, and professionals such as architects and engineers. These permanent jobs are in contrast to truck driving and retail that disappear when the shale gas workers are gone elsewhere.
So, we ask…considering the imminent danger climate change, why isn’t our government looking at clean energy options?
Let’s drill instead. Our government assures us that will be only drilling between 50 and 100 wells per year, while in PA they drill between 1200 and 1500 per year. So how exactly will we supply all our energy needs with cheap gas, supply cheap gas to our industries including big users like potash and fertilizer plants, supply cheap gas to the Irving refinery to refine tar sands oil and export expensive gas over seas on 50-100 wells per year?
Other benefits Pennsylvania has received from the oil and gas craze:
Community Division: Because landowners get royalties, local populations have been severely divided against each other, as neighbors without wells undergo all the risks of shale gas with none of its benefits. The opposition in PA is growing and the Democratic Party now calls for a moratorium on future drilling in their official party platform.
Water Contamination: Northeast PA is the site of 2 different peer-reviewed studies by Duke University that verified methane contamination of water wells in proximity to shale gas drilling.
Radioactive Wastewater: Another recent Duke study found dangerously elevated levels of radioactivity and toxic chemicals downstream from a water treatment plant processing fracking wastewater. The streams feed public drinking water sources.
Violations and Fines: PA keeps its shale gas enforcement actions online – even with its questionable enforcement agency, the database shows thousands of violations. It has levied millions of dollars in fines, but with no decrease in the number of violations.
Fracking Health Secrets: PA law forbids physicians from telling a patient what fracking chemical is making them sick if that chemical has a trade secret designation. Court cases of health problems and contamination have been settled by agreements that include gag orders on the plaintiffs, including last year’s infamous attempt to put lifetime gag orders on two children involved in a case.
(with notes from Jim Emberger)