Drilling Down

US Chamber Outlines Impact of Banning Fracking

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The head of the local chamber of commerce and the president of the company building a power plant in Lordstown are among those praising a report on the consequences of prohibiting hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, “What If Hydraulic Fracturing Was Banned,” looks at past or future consequences of “certain energy-related comments and policy prescriptions put forth by prominent politicians and their supporters” if enacted.

The report was released Friday, on the eve of an election in which Youngstown voters will consider for a sixth time whether to approve the co-called Community Bill of Rights, which aims to curtail such activity in the city.

In answer to the report’s title question, such a ban could mean the loss of 14.8 million jobs by 2020, prices for gasoline and electricity nearly doubling and an increase by nearly $4,000 of each family’s cost of living.

Ohio is among the states in which the impact would be most severe, according to a news release issued by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber.

Other states – like Ohio, with large energy economies and significant manufacturing sectors – that would be severely impacted are Pennsylvania, Colorado and Texas, according to the report, which can be viewed here.

“I’m glad to see that the U.S. Chamber is taking a hard position on this matter and reviewing, documenting and making the public aware of the dire outcome and significant impact should fracking ever be banned,” said Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Regional Chamber.

Among the examples of “monumental development and great impact” of fracking in the Mahoning Valley is the nearly $1 billion Lordstown Energy Center under construction. More than 750 members of the building trades are on site working on the plant because of shale development, Humphries said.

“The Lordstown Energy Center is under construction because of fracking,” affirmed Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future LLC, in a prepared statement.

“To date, $4.5 billion has been invested in Ohio in modern natural gas fired power plants that have brought 5,000 MW of electricity with another 5,000 MW under development,” Siderewicz noted. “We need access to low-cost natural gas to continue to make these kinds of investments, create thousands of jobs and more importantly continue to provide consumer choice for low-cost electricity.”

Humphries applauded the U.S. Chamber’s report because of the efforts by the supporters of the Community Bill of Rights to get approval for the proposed city charter amendment that would ban fracking. The Regional Chamber, business and community leaders formed the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment in 2013 to oppose the charter amendment.

The coalition argues the amendment would drive away good-paying jobs; threaten the city, local businesses, churches, contractors, and labor unions with costly lawsuits; and put tax dollars that go to local schools and communities at risk.

“At the end of the day, [shale drilling] is resulting in more money in a family’s monthly budget and a rebirth in manufacturing opportunities up and down the Ohio River Valley,” said Shawn Bennett, executive vice president, Ohio Oil and Gas Association, on a conference call Friday.

“At the state level we have been fairly successful in creating a regulatory climate that is pro-growth. We’re obviously looking for that to continue and we would oppose any effort to impede the use of hydraulic fracturing in any way,” added Zachary Frymier, director of energy and environment, for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.