A recent op-ed in the Binghamton, NY Press & Sun touted the idea that local residents should prepare for jobs that Fracking (if allowed) will supposedly create. However it was incomplete in explaining the details of the proposed preparation. The full picture of Fracking into the future is more complex than that promotional pro-Fracking piece.
If the Southern Tier of New York State, which is the epicenter of the Marcellus Shale Play for the Fracking for natural gas extraction, really wants to be the source of rough-necks (gas field workers) we need to turn our local public schools into Roughneck U. where our kids can learn to work in a toxic environment of chemicals and industrial machinery, and speed of production has priority over worker or community safety. Local future Frackers won’t have better qualifications than experienced gas field workers; so they’ll have to be willing to work for much lower wages that reflect their amateur status. They’ll have to be willing to live in motels or worker camps, move on when the drilling is done, be unemployed when the price of gas drops due to excess production and risk the explosions that happen regularly at gas facilities.
For those that don’t care for the dangerous, transitory work of the gas fields the article referred to the career opportunities in food services, such as waiting tables, tending bar or working in a food truck that goes from drill site to drill site. It certainly requires less of a training commitment than going to Roughneck U., but it’s a career with the same short term job security; when the drilling’s done - the job is over.
What weren’t mentioned in the article were the real employment needs that Fracking will create. Every local community will have to hire, train and equip additional emergency services personnel with everything it takes to protect community residents from toxic spills, explosive gas fires and the other dangers Fracking creates. Continuing ongoing testing of community water sources and research into the ingredients and effects of hundreds of millions of gallons of Fracking fluid being dumped into the ground will need to be undertaken by each community to protect the health and safety of residents; because NYS has no plan in place, staff or funding source to carry out these measures. Local environmental and health agencies will have to find ways of dealing with the inevitable contamination of individual water sources too. In addition the monitoring and repair of damaged roads and bridges will fall to local authorities; because again NYS has no plan or funding for this either. All these measures will create jobs for public employees and all at unwanted expense (increased taxes) for local residents.
Add in lower property values, thus lower local tax revenue, the reduced appeal of a polluted industrial landscape for potential long term green industry, increased personal health care costs and a host of other negatives; the result is a significant net loss for local residents. No wonder the people who write about jobs in pro-Fracking articles are those who are going to make a load of money and won’t need a job, if we allow them to Frack our future.