Real Estate Values Suffer Penalties from Fracking

by Duane Nichols on December 20, 2015

Sand Truck Rollover: "NIMBY!"

Duke study: Fracking lowers home values by $30K

From an Article by Jason deBruyn, Business Journal, December 15, 2015

Fracking can significantly decrease home values, especially in areas that use well water, according to a new study from Duke University.

The study, which was done in Pennsylvania, found that home values decreased by an average of more than $30,000 for homes on well water within about a mile of shale drilling.

Photo: An EQT Corp super triple fracking rig drills for natural gas on a site in Washington… more

Homes on piped water decreased by a smaller margin – about $4,800 on average, according to the study.

“Our results show clearly that housing markets are responding to homeowners’ concerns about groundwater contamination from shale gas development,” said Christopher Timmins, a Duke economics professor who specializes in environmental economics, and lead author in the study. “We may not know for many years whether these concerns are valid or not. However, they are creating a real cost to property owners today.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a relatively new technology to extract gas from the earth by drilling into a shale formation and then applying a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to create cracks that release gas. The N.C. General Assembly made moves to allow for fracking in North Carolina, though it has not happened yet in the state. The use of fracking is expanding across the nation.

According to Duke, the research is among the first to correlate fracking with property values. It appears online in the December issue of the American Economic Review. The researchers looked at home sales in 36 counties between 1995 and 2012 and controlled for potentially variables like effects of the Great Recession and the benefits homeowners could receive in the form of lease payments.

The authors found that a home’s distance from a shale well made all the difference. Among homes that rely on well water, a shale well located within one kilometer was associated with a 13.9 percent average decrease in home values. But if the nearest shale gas drilling site was at least two kilometers away, property values remained constant.

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New York State Assessors De-Value Homes near Compressor Stations by 25% to 50%

<< Proximity of Compressor Stations Devalues Homes by as Much as 50% >>

Fremont Center, NY — Homeowners living near the Millennium Pipeline Company’s 15,000 horsepower compressor station on Hungry Hill Road in Hancock, New York have seen the value of their homes decline by as much as 50 percent since the industrial facility was constructed in the midst of what used to be a quiet, rural community.

In May 2014 several Hungry Hill residents sought real estate tax relief citing the adverse impact of the compressor station on their property values. The Town of Hancock, denied the tax grievances, but Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy subsequently offered to fund homeowner appeals. On August 25, 2014, small claims hearings were held in the Hancock Town Hall. Two homeowners, a certified Real Estate Appraiser, and a representative of Catskill Citizens testified that the compressor station was responsible for heavy truck traffic, noxious odors, persistent low-level vibrations, and air contamination.

The witnesses also asserted that the facility presented a safety threat and recounted how a Millennium employee suddenly knocked on the door of a house late one evening and urged the family to quickly evacuate their home. Finally, it was alleged that blasting during the construction of the compressor station had cracked the foundation of one house, which in turn led to an unsafe spike of radon levels.

(Pre and post-construction radon tests conducted by Professional Home Inspection Service of Binghamton, New York showed that radon levels in the home jumped from 3 pCi/L to 6.1 pCi/L, which is above the EPA recommended action guideline of 4.0 pCiL.)

In light of the evidence proffered, the Town of Hancock tax assessors agreed to decrease the assessed valuation and real estate taxes on two homes by 25 percent. The assessed valuation and taxes on a third home, the one that had been physically damaged, were cut by 50 percent. Hearing Officer John Creech, who presided over the settlement, was familiar with the compressor station and remarked, “I wouldn’t want to live next to it.” After the tax assessors agreed to the 50 percent tax cut he told the owners, “You have a good lawsuit here.”


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