Fuzzy Shale Jobs Math. One More Time...in PA's New State Energy Plan

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With the Corbett administration rolling out a new State Energy Plan today, I'll leave it to the energy policy experts to produce a comprehensive evaluation of it. Here, I want to focus on one narrow issue — the jobs impact of shale drilling.

To be sure, the cover of the report suggests that the jobs impact of energy production is not such a narrow issue. That cover has in large bold capitals the title "ENERGY = JOBS" and then in tiny type "Pennsylvania State Energy Plan." Not a lot of nuance in this narrative: energy industries — shale drilling — are simply equated with job creation.

This same narrative is in evidence within the report on page 17 which states:

Pennsylvania’s oil and natural gas industries have made a tremendous economic and workforce impact in recent years and will continue to do so in the future. Over 240,000 Pennsylvanians work in core and ancillary jobs associated with the oil and gas industry ...

Actually, no. As we explained in great detail in a recent report on shale's job impact (see pages 27-30), the vast majority of these 240,000 jobs existed before fracking began and have nothing to do with fracking. Counting every UPS driver as "associated with" the oil and gas industry — and every other job in many other industries in which only one or two jobs out of 100 supply drillers — is wrong. Plain and simple wrong.

StateImpact Pennsylvania makes the same point in its report on the plan.

By reiterating job claims that have been painstakingly demonstrated to be wrong, the Corbett administration undermines its own credibility. It should try a different tack.

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