Research & Commentary by Tim Benson
A new report prepared by Kleinhenz & Associates for the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program shows increased oil and natural gas production from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has saved American consumers $1.1 trillion in the decade from 2008 to 2018. This breaks down to more than $900 in annual savings to each American family, or $9,000 in cumulative savings.
These savings come from the lower cost of natural gas due to increased production. According to the report, “natural gas as measured using the average Henry Hub price has declined from a 2008 high of $8.86 to an estimated 2018 price of $3.16.” For households in the lowest economic quintile, the bottom 20 percent, the lower price for natural gas amounts to a savings of 2.7 percent of their annual income. “This is equivalent to a raise of 2.7% for the poorest households,” the report states.
The paper singles out the states of the “Shale Crescent”—Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—noting they are “responsible for 85 percent of the net growth in natural gas daily production over the past ten years and now [account] for nearly one-third of U.S. natural gas annual production.”
In these states, total savings since 2009 amount to almost $93 billion ($45 billion in Ohio, $43 billion in Pennsylvania, and $3 billion in West Virginia). For industrial and manufacturing end users in the region, savings were more than $25 billion ($13.9 billion in Ohio, $9.5 billion in Pennsylvania, $1.3 billion in West Virginia).
These findings are backed up by a series of reports from the Consumer Energy Alliance. The trade group found lower natural gas prices due to increased shale development led to more than $40 billion in savings for Ohio residents from 2006 to 2016. In Pennsylvania, savings were more than $30 billion. West Virginia residents experienced savings of more than $4 billion.
It should come as no surprise that shale development is spurring economic growth across the “Shale Crescent” and the United States as a whole. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the shale industry alone drove 10 percent of U.S. GDP from 2010 to 2015. In 2018, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, oil and gas extraction accounted for $218 billion of U.S. economic output.
Hydraulic fracturing activity delivers $1,300 to $1,900 in annual benefits to local households, including “a 7 percent increase in average income, driven by rises in wages and royalty payments, a 10 percent increase in employment, and a 6 percent increase in housing prices,” according to a December 2016 study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Another study published in the American Economic Review in April 2017 found “each million dollars of new [oil and gas] production produces $80,000 in wage income and $132,000 in royalty and business income within a county. Within 100 miles, one million dollars of new production generates $257,000 in wages and $286,000 in royalty and business income.”
Hydraulic fracturing enables the cost-effective extraction of once-inaccessible oil and natural gas deposits. These energy sources are abundant, inexpensive, environmentally safe, and can ensure the United States remains a leading energy producer far into the future. Therefore, policymakers in the “Shale Crescent” should refrain from placing unnecessary burdens on the natural gas and oil industries, which are safe and positively impact their states’ economies.
The following documents provide more information about fracking and fossil fuels.
The Value of U.S. Energy Innovation and Policies Supporting the Shale Revolution
This report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors estimates that increased oil and natural gas production due to the fracking revolution is saving American families a combined $203 billion annually, or around $2,500 per family. On top of this, the fracking revolution is benefitting the environment, lowering energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 527 million metric tons between 2005 and 2017.
Debunking Four Persistent Myths about Hydraulic Fracturing
This Heartland Institute Policy Brief by Policy Analyst Timothy Benson and former Heartland communications intern Linnea Lueken outlines the basic elements of the fracking process and then refutes the four most widespread fracking myths, providing lawmakers and the public with the research and data they need to make informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing.
The Local Economic and Welfare Consequences of Hydraulic Fracturing
This comprehensive study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research says fracking brings, on average, $1,300 to $1,900 in annual benefits to local households, including a 7 percent increase in average income, a 10 percent increase in employment, and a 6 percent increase in housing prices.
Local Fiscal Effects of a Drilling Downturn: Local Government Impacts of Decreased Oil and Gas Activity
in Five U.S. Shale Regions
This study from Resources for the Future finds 82 percent of communities in the five largest shale regions in the United States experienced a net fiscal benefit from hydraulic fracturing despite a large drop in oil and natural gas commodity prices starting in 2014.
Impacts of the Natural Gas and Oil Industry on the U.S. Economy in 2015
This study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, shows that the natural gas and oil industry supported 10.3 million U.S. jobs in 2015. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage paid by the natural gas and oil industry, excluding retail station jobs, was $101,181 in 2016, which is nearly 90 percent more than the national average. The study also shows the natural gas and oil industry has had widespread impacts in each of the 50 states.
The U.S. Leads the World in Clean Air: The Case for Environmental Optimism
This paper from the Texas Public Policy Foundation examines how the United States achieved robust economic growth while dramatically reducing emissions of air pollutants. The paper states that these achievements should be celebrated as a public policy success story, but instead the prevailing narrative among political and environmental leaders is one of environmental decline that can only be reversed with a more stringent regulatory approach. Instead, the paper urges for the data to be considered and applied to the narrative.
What If … Hydraulic Fracturing Was Banned?
This is the fourth in a series of studies produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. It examines what a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing would entail. The report’s authors found by 2022, a ban would cause 14.8 million jobs to “evaporate,” almost double gasoline and electricity prices, and increase natural gas prices by 400 percent. Moreover, cost of living expenses would increase by nearly $4,000 per family, household incomes would be reduced by $873 billion, and GDP would be reduced by $1.6 trillion.
What If … America’s Energy Renaissance Never Happened?
This report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy examines the impact the development of shale oil and gas has had on the United States. The report’s authors found that without the fracking-related “energy renaissance,” 4.3 million jobs in the United States may not have ever been created and $548 billion in annual GDP would have been lost since 2009. The report also found electricity prices would be 31 percent higher and gasoline prices 43 percent higher.
Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels – Summary for Policymakers
In this fifth volume of the Climate Change Reconsidered series, 117 scientists, economists, and other experts assess the costs and benefits of the use of fossil fuels by reviewing scientific and economic literature on organic chemistry, climate science, public health, economic history, human security, and theoretical studies based on integrated assessment models (IAMs) and cost-benefit analysis (CBA).
The Social Benefits of Fossil Fuels
This Heartland Policy Brief by Joseph Bast and Peter Ferrara documents the many benefits from the historic and still ongoing use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are lifting billions of people out of poverty, reducing all the negative effects of poverty on human health, and vastly improving human well-being and safety by powering labor-saving and life-protecting technologies, such as air conditioning, modern medicine, and cars and trucks. They are dramatically increasing the quantity of food humans produce and improving the reliability of the food supply, directly benefiting human health. Further, fossil fuel emissions are possibly contributing to a “Greening of the Earth,” benefiting all the plants and wildlife on the planet.