It’s nothing new to hear environmental groups raise concerns over the health dangers of hydraulic fracturing – that’s all in a days work. But a new report from Environment Texas questions one aspect of fracking that rarely comes under scrutiny: its supposed economic benefit.
“The Costs of Fracking” collects data from academic and government studies to paint a picture of an industry that may be a bigger drain on state tax money than previously thought. The report looks at things like damage to roads, increased cost for water infrastructure projects, and drilling’s impact on property values in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“Truck traffic to bring water to a single fracking site does as much damage to roads as 3.5 million cars,” Environment Texas director Luke Metzger tells StateImpact Texas. “So as a result the state of Texas has been forced to approve $40 million to repair roads here in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Barnett Shale region.”
Other costs enumerated in the report includes:
- $400 million requested in the state’s water plan to support the mining sector over the next 50 years.
- A three to 14 percent decrease in property values for homes in the Barnett Shale region located near wells.
- An estimated $270,000 per day in health care costs, due to pollution from fracking operations in the Barnett Shale region.
The report was timed to be released while the Dallas City Council reviews its regulations on fracking within city limits, and while the Texas Railroad Commission looks into water recycling for fracking.
But Metzger’s contention that “there are a lot of costs that may offset or even be greater than any economic values that’s associated with fracking,” won’t likely win many converts among supporters of oil and gas fracking in Texas.
After all, fracking proponents have their own numbers.
For example, the group Texas Natural Gas Now claims that natural gas, much of it captured through fracking, “contributes more than $100 billion to the Texas economy each year, including product sales, royalties, and property, state, local and severance taxes.”