Issue Brief: Fracking’s Illusory Benefits & Hidden Costs

August 20, 2013

A new issue brief from Food & Water Watch highlights the hidden costs to fracking in Colorado, along with misconceptions about perceived benefits. Some of those illusory benefits include:

  • In 2010, the oil and gas industry activity supported only about 2.3 percent of Colorado’s gross domestic product (GDP) and less than one percent of the state’s jobs.
  • Drilling and fracking jobs, along with any associated local spending on goods and services, move from town to town as drilling sweet-spots are exhausted, resulting in short-term boom and bust cycles that are often harmful to local communities over the long term.
  • A study of counties in the western United States found that income inequality typically grows faster in counties with heavy fossil fuel extraction. The economies of these counties grow more slowly compared to those that are less dependent on fossil fuel extraction.

The report also highlights the costs to communities’ public health and property values. Some of the findings include:

  • In 2012, Nationwide Mutual clarified that it would deny insurance coverage for claims of damages due to fracking-related activities, citing a lack of “comfort level with the unique risks associated with the fracking process.” One family in Texas saw their home lose 75 percent of its assessed value after allowing drilling and fracking on their land.
  • Widespread drilling and fracking in Colorado amount to an ongoing public health experiment. Numerous Colorado residents are complaining of health problems associated with oil and gas industry pollution. One study in western Colorado tested air quality near fracking operations and detected harmful levels of toxic solvents, 30 of which affect the endocrine system.

To read the complete issue brief, click here.

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