Center For Rural PA: 2nd Studies On Health, Social, Economic Impacts Of Shale Drilling
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Monday released what it called Wave 2 of its multi-year research into the social and economic impacts of natural gas development in Northcentral and Southwest Pennsylvania.
The primary Wave 2 report summaries the findings of more detailed reports on changes in crime, economic changes, and changes in housing, agriculture, health insurance, health care and health outcomes, transportation and the experience of low-income residents in four Marcellus Shale counties-- Bradford, Lycoming, Washington and Greene.
Among the findings in the reports--
-- Overall Health: The report found there were nine statistically significant differences between counties with no wells, counties with some wells and counties with the most wells on health issues--
1. Counties with no wells experienced significantly larger increases than counties with wells in the percentage of adults without health insurance;
2. Counties with no wells experienced significantly larger declines than counties with wells in the percentage of poor children without health insurance;
3. Counties with some wells experienced significantly larger reductions in respiratory hospitalizations and digestive hospitalizations compared to counties with no wells;
4. Counties with no wells experienced significantly larger reductions in length of stay for respiratory hospitalizations compared to counties with wells;
5. Counties with no wells experienced significantly smaller increases than counties with wells in length of stay for hospitalizations caused by injuries, poisonings, and toxic effects of drugs;
6. Counties with the most wells experienced an increase in the percentage of adults reporting fair/poor health while counties with no wells experienced a decline, and the difference is statistically significant;
7. Counties with no wells experienced a larger decline in adult smoking rates than counties with some wells;
8. Counties with some wells experienced a larger increase in chlamydia rates than counties with no wells and counties with the most wells; and
9. Counties with the most wells experienced smaller increases in the gonorrhea rates than counties with no wells.
-- Economics: Although economic impact studies generally find modest positive economic changes associated with development, what those impacts are, where they are, and their magnitude varies widely. Employment and compensation are generally found to have less impact than income generated from leases and royalties. Economic impacts will likely be short-run due to the temporal dynamics of the industry.
-- Agriculture: The number of farms in Bradford County increased substantially between 2002 and 2012, while the number of farmers in the other counties and Pennsylvania in general declined. Average acreage in the four study counties increased, with the exception of Lycoming County. Lycoming and Bradford counties experienced the most dramatic drop in milk cow inventory especially when compared to their neighboring counties and statewide. Moreover, the decline in milk cows increases steadily from no drilling to high drilling counties.
-- Crime: Driving under the influence and disorderly conduct arrest rates are associated with well density, controlling for other factors. Rates of driving under the influence are higher in counties with high levels of well development compared to counties that do not have well development; however, the counties with high levels of development did not experience an increase in DUIs from before to during Marcellus well development that was greater than other counties. Counties with higher Marcellus well density had higher rates of disorderly conduct arrests than counties with little or no well activity.
-- Low-Income Households: Nearly all respondents described the effects of the shale gas industry on the cost and availability of housing and in particular how rising housing costs had contributed to their own residential instability and/or that of others whom they knew. These challenges were coupled with the difficulties in finding employment offering wages that might cover rising housing costs. Respondents described how higher-paid employment opportunities in the industry were not widely available. Respondents also described a mix of community changes above and beyond changes in the housing market, such as perceived increases in crime. Some female respondents described increases in prostitution and either directly or indirectly attributed community change to the gas industry. Low income residents tended to strongly believe that public policy makers had largely ignored or had remained unaware of the negative consequences of shale gas development, especially as it has affected the most vulnerable segments of Pennsylvania communities.
The reports were done for the Center by Kathryn Brasier, Raeven Chandler, Leland Glenna, Arielle Hesse, Timothy Kelsey, Shannon Monnat, Joshua Perchinski, Kai Schafft, and Mark Suchyta at Penn State University.
Copies of the 8 reports are available on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Reports webpage.
[Posted: March 28, 2017]
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