Coffman: Fracking Jobs

The natural gas industry blithely asserts that they have created three million jobs in the U.S.  Do I have evidence to dispute this fact? Only that the fracking industry has consistently been playing fast and loose with the truth ever since its inception, repeating Texas Whoppers to workers, investors and public alike whenever it has served their interests.
Lying about amounts of recoverable gas by as much as 70%. Lying about expected royalties to leaseholders. Lying about dangers to workers, landowners and the environment.

As to jobs, an industry-commissioned study claimed that more than 111,000 PA fracking jobs  would be created in 2011—and still tout those figures—despite a U.S. Department of Labor study that could only find 11,000 of them, a mere 10% of what the gas industry claimed. In other words, 10% true, and 90%Texasbull.

Or take the industry’s “fracking is safe” mantra that they continue to chant, in the face  of the testimonies of pollution, sickness and environmental damage that follow this industry from state to state and site to site.

The one thing we should all know for sure about these companies is that they have no credibility left. No matter what they say, how ever fancy their ads and spin.

Referring to the fracking jobs themselves, the companies fail to mention how dangerous these jobs are, not only exposing workers to industrial hazards but to toxic chemicals, radiation, explosions and spills. Nor do they have anything to say about the long hours and harsh conditions that frequently lead to meth-amphetamine abuse and anti-social behavior, often forcing host communities to expand their emergency and health services, as well as their courts and jails.

Not to overly blame the gas workers. Most of them are itinerant young men from out of state, hard workers doing their roustabout best a long way from home. But from the viewpoint of local towns, it all too often turns out to be fortunate that fewer of these jobs have appeared than were predicted, and are also of shorter duration—as well production rarely comes up to the forecasted hype.

Nor do I mean to suggest that we don’t need more energy and more jobs. Of course we do.

But what we truly need are sustainable jobs and clean energy that will improve our communities in the long run—not dangerous, destructive, short-term, boom & bust jobs that fill gas company pockets, and leave us with a nasty long-term mess.

Steve Coffman


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