Understanding the Politics of FRACKING and CRACKING in 2020

by S. Tom Bond on October 22, 2020

Food & Water Watch analysis of employment

Cracking through Trump’s Fracking Claims

From an Article by Alison Grass, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, October 16, 2020

The road to the White House once again runs through Pennsylvania, which explains the campaign photo ops and nonstop TV ads. It also means we’ll be treated to a lot of claims about fracking. Unfortunately, much of what we’re hearing about drilling is not rooted in the facts.

The stories that the Trump campaign and the fracking industry tell are straightforward: Fracking equals jobs, and lots of them. Trump tells his supporters that 600,000 (or occasionally even 900,000) fracking jobs in Pennsylvania are at risk due to a ban on drilling. That is nowhere near the truth — the real number is under 30,000and Joe Biden does not support a fracking ban in the first place.

The Trump team makes the same kinds of boasts about the Shell petrochemical cracker plant going up in Beaver County, which has become a regular campaign backdrop. In a sense, this is perfectly fitting; that facility, and the massive public subsidies that have been wasted on it, are emblematic of Trump’s distorted fossil fuel agenda. The public will eventually shell out $1.6 billion — in the form of corporate tax credits — to help subsidize the $6 billion facility, which will convert fracked gas byproducts into plastics. This is, in Trump’s view, a huge success story; he even once bizarrely claimed credit for the plant’s existence.

But the Shell saga is not a success, it’s a cautionary tale. Contrary to the boasts of petrochemical backers, the plant was mostly built with imported materials and out-of-state workers. Instead of providing for thousands of local, permanent jobs, it will create about 600. And these massive corporate giveaways don’t create jobs — they serve to widen the inequality gap.

The fossil-fuel industry and its political allies are telling us the same story we’ve always heard: If you want the jobs, you have to put up with living with the air and water pollution. But new research from Food & Water Watch shows that “choice” is false. Our new analysis — “Cracked: The Case For Green Jobs Over Petrochemicals In Pennsylvania” — shows that a similar level of investment in wind and solar manufacturing would create as many as 16,000 permanent jobs.

But let’s be real: Subsidies and tax breaks alone are unlikely to attract manufacturers. The most effective way to ensure the transition to a green economy is through a large-scale buildout of publicly owned renewable electricity. This should include a comprehensive, New Deal-scale green public works program that guarantees employment for fossil-fuel workers and prioritizes American-made renewable energy and energy-efficient equipment, materials and appliances.

The fact that clean energy manufacturing provides a much more serious jobs boom should move Pennsylvania’s political leaders to pursue policies to create an economy that works for everyone. Unfortunately, state lawmakers are still banking on fossil fuels and petrochemicals.

Right now, the entire “debate” around fracking in Pennsylvania is marred by outlandish exaggerations and a willful blindness to the realities of the fossil-fuel business. As national media outlets pontificate about what the presidential candidates will do to “protect” fracking jobs, the industry is in the midst of a devastating collapse. While the campaign rhetoric spins fantasies about hundreds of thousands of good jobs, in the real world fracking jobs are disappearing and companies are going bankrupt.

The Shell cracker plant does not represent the kind of future that will truly benefit all Pennsylvanians. Instead of spending billions of dollars to create a few hundred jobs — and unknown quantities of air and plastic pollution — the state should make serious investments in wind and solar manufacturing, which will create far more stable, long-term jobs at a fraction of the cost.

>> Alison Grass is research director at the national advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

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FACT CHECKER: Trump campaign promotes false claim that Biden would end fracking – The Washington Post, October 7, 2020

More than six months after former vice president Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, the Trump campaign still acts as if it is running against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary Wildfire October 22, 2020 at 8:26 am

There are other things Pennsylvania could do as a clean, healthy alternative to promoting last century’s fossil fuels and petrochemicals just as those industries go into terminal decline.

Solar and wind, yes, but also lots of small businesses making alternatives to plastic — or other things. $1.65 billion could subsidize a lot of start-ups!

But there is a big obstacle — the fossil fuel and chemical industries can and do bribe lawmakers to do their bidding, and solar and wind manufacturers can’t compete. As for all those small businesses, the potential owners don’t even know who they are — they certainly can’t appropriately bribe candidates and incumbents.

Mary Wildfire


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