Food and Water Watch Report Exposes Lies About Oil and Gas Industry Jobs Claims

A report released today by Food and Water Watch (FWW) titled, “Exposing the Oil and Gas Industry’s False Jobs Promise for Shale Gas Development: How Methodological Flaws Grossly Exaggerate Jobs Projections,” exposes one of the key lies at the heart of the domestic oil and gas debate in the United States – inflated jobs potential.

The oil and gas industry has tried to stand on three legs, claiming that shale gas is good for the environment, good for American energy security and good for the economy. The first two legs have already been kicked out, and our new analysis kicks out the third,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter in a press release. “They have no legs left to stand on.”

Jobs Numbers Hugely Overestimated

FWW's study hones in on the arguments made in the July 2011 report written by the Public Policy Institute of New York State (PPINYS), titled, “Drilling for Jobs: What the Marcellus Shale Could Mean for New York.” That report concluded that by 2018, the development of 500 new shale gas wells each year in five key counties in the state of New York could create 62,620 new jobs.

The report is often cited in the mainstream media, particularly when attemping to “balance” arguments against fracking in the Marcellus Shale and other shale basins around the United States, namely that it is a dirty fossil fuel with a procurement process that is inherently toxic.

After sifting and winnowing through the scores of methodological flaws found in the PPINYS report, FWW discovered that, contrary to the rosy jobs numbers publicly disseminated, very few jobs will actually be created by drilling in these counties, and PPINYS has grossly over-projected job creation.

Rather than over 62,000 potential jobs, FWW's study shows that only 3,469 jobs would be created – a stark difference indeed.  

He Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune: Follow the Echo Chamber

PPINYS' “study” heavily relies on data from another “study” published in May 2010 by Pennsylvania State University professors Timothy Considine, Robert Watson, and Seth Blumsack titled, “The Economic Impacts of the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play.” That work was funded by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas industry lobbying group representing nearly all of the corporations fracking for gas in the Marcellus.

PPINYS is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a right-wing clearinghouse of state-level think tanks located throughout the United States, funded by the likes of the Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, and the Koch-funded Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation.

Furthermore, PPINYS is also affiliated with The Business Council of New York State, according to its website, and two out of nine members of its Board of Trustees are members of The Business Council. Another member of its Board of Trustees, James W. Kinnear, is the former CEO of Texaco, which has since been purchased by Chevron. Kinnear is still listed as representing Chevron on The Business Council website, though his biographical sketch located on Bloomberg Businessweek shows him as the Director of Saudi Arabia Oil Company.

The Business Council, lo and behold, is also heavily funded by the oil and gas industry. The Chairman of the Board of Directors, David Smith, is the Chairman and CEO of Natural Gas Fuel Company. Smith is also on the Board of Directors of the American Gas Association.

Also on the Board is the CEO of CH Energy Group, Steven Lant, and Robert Prantil, the North Region Executive of General Electric – both of the corporations they represent have a major stake in the shale gas boom.

Member corporations and industry groups of the Council include the likes of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, the Northeast Gas Association, and the New York State Petroluem Council. All of these consortiums, in turn, are also heavily funded and represented by the oil and gas industry.

As the old adage goes, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” In other words, if the industry cannot actually create jobs, it can surely fund sham studies of the sort exposed by FWW, hand them off to willing media stenographers, who then pass them off as facts-on-the-ground to the public. 

One can only hope this trend changes with this latest FWW report.


Good to know that there are no jobs created by building pipelines or drilling for oil and gas. Must be all volunteer labor, no wonder exxon does so well. I guess all the jobs are created in some government department tracking the bankruptcies of renerwable energy companies.

Never once was a claim made that “no jobs” are created, but rather, that these fossil fuel funded think-tanks are lying about the number of jobs created, and then creating an echo chamber of lies through a subsurvient mainstream media. 

Are you going to hold to that standard for green job estimates and call them liars when they spin out pipe dream employment numbers. No, no you won’t. Double standard.

And “green jobs” alone are not what is going to save this planet anyway, so in a way, talking about this issue on your terms is a non-starter for me.

It is going to take a fundamentally radical lifestyle shift, from more bike riding and walking, to extensive public transportation systems and rail lines, to localizing of food systems. Fossil fuel industry shills would like us to believe we need to continue to live in the manner we do today, so that cash continues to line their coffers, but it's simply not true. 

walking and bikes are the future for sure. The great thing about that is you don’t have to invent anything.

The biggest issue is going to be food production and distribution. We just don’t know how to feed the masses without the current system of mass production and shipping. We don’t know how to feed 7 billion people with local food. We do it by maximizing corn and wheat production… and mostly by sucking oil out of the ground.

We could produce food for 7 billion, potentially. It is hard to say for sure, since the Global North, or the global superpowers, over-produce, and then waste, food. The food system is so undemocratic and run by such powerful food conglomerates that it is hard to imagine anything other than exists now. And like the fossil fuel industry, it has produced a massive propaganda machine that makes it seem as if it is the only possibility. It's not. Plenty of great ecologists have written to the contrary. I recommend reading Bill McKibben's Deep Economy if you want an overview of some of the best ecological work out there. It's a great and easily digestible (excuse the pun!) read. 

“The food system is so undemocratic …”

The universe is undemocratic.

You don’t get a vote in how I run my farm, or how, or to whom, I distribute the products of my labour.

Well … until you intitute forced collectivization, and we know how that turns out.

You don’t happen to drive a rusty old van, with no windows, an interior that smells vaguely of ether, and has crudely hand-painted letters on the side, reading “FREE CANDY”?

Cuffy, that's just the sort of abusive, offensive, off-topic petty name-calling and continued pattern of disrespect that our comment policy refers to.  Your account has been deleted. Goodbye.

Too bad Cuffy had to leave ( just joking ;)) . I was looking forward to him proving just one of the lies he constantly spewed.

Was still waiting on one from 3 weeks back Cuffy. Let alone all the others he was called on.

An easily identified troll from day one. Oh well, I’m sure we will see another Ayn Rand character appear soon :( .

We must have a direct replacement for petroleum diesel. Prior to the use of fossil fuels for agriculture the American farmer could feed maybe 9 people. A solid figure on this is hard to establish because the majority of people living outside the major cities had gardens and farmed to some extent and a big gray line on where to start classifying people as farmers. 1940 this number started changing fast from 19 to 155 today. Without some form of directly replacing fossil fuels we could not feed the masses. May come as a shock to some but the #2 cause of greenhouse gasses is feeding ourselves. Maybe we need an article about that. This is another reason that I insist that synthetic diesel must have a major role in emission reductions. As for fossil fuels we need conservation. Too many plastics and other chemicals come from them that cannot be replaced. Modern medicines as well as other modern desires depend on them. So what do we make synthetic diesel from? Basically anything that has carbon in it. Things that would normally go in landfills including plastic and paper, logging/forest waste, crop waste, waste from tree trimming and lawns, sewage. I would not recommend growing crops just for this, as the tilling, planting, fertilizing, harvesting process is CO2 extensive itself, unless the algae cultivation/harvesting can be low carbon emissions.  If we can remove carbon and biogenic methane emissions from these sources and produce a competitively priced drop in diesel that has a 50% reduction in carbon emissions then that would be carbon negative would it not? This diesel also has significant drops in other emissions across the board. Not only that but the process generates excess electricity to be put on the grid reducing emissions there not just when the wind blows but 24/7/365. We have this technology so why are we not utilizing it? Probably the oil people fight it pretty hard? Next problem is OPEC control. Lets say this can produce diesel at $5.25 a gallon. Ok, be tough but we could choke that down. But OPEC drops oil prices to $50bbl and this tech sunk! So can we feed the masses without it? No!!! We must have a cleaner, drop-in, diesel! Or a plague.


Rick, No way you will plow furrows or feed NYC with bicycle!

Arkansas permits roughly 1200 wells per year. This creates 10,000 jobs directly employed by the oil and gas industry. Apply a modest 3 to the indirect employment and you have a total of 40,000 jobs. Yes New York is dreaming if it thinks 500 permits per year will bring in 62,000 jobs. On the same card they will need about 16-20 drilling rigs to do this. I don’t think any operator in their right mind would contract this many rigs to New York after they were snake bit once. Not when you consider there are not enough rigs in the US today. 62,000 jobs. No way!

So far as I can tell, there are nothing is being exposed here except one long rambling ad hominem … the old standby by of attacking the messenger.

As for the jobs picture, why don’t we let that speak for itself:

LIBERTY - The Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas fields are causing waves of economic gains for steel pipe maker V&M Star and other large companies, but many smaller area businesses are benefiting from the ripples.

Liberty-based VEC Inc. is one. Dearing Compressor and Pump Co. in Boardman is another.

Eventually, the dollars trickle down to real estate, hotels, retailers and restaurants, a local economic development official noted.

“We were in Canonsburg (Pa.), where a lot of drilling is occurring, and hotels are cropping up, office space and restaurants are cropping up, because people are doing business in the area,” said Walt Good, Regional Chamber vice president for economic development.

Global steel pipe maker V&M Star, which is generating about 750 construction and production job by building a $650 million high-tech pipe mill on Trumbull County’s southern border, has been getting most of the early publicity since the Marcellus Shale burst into the news several years ago.

This implies that capitalism and fossil fuel development mean a multiplying of wealth right down to the low paying service jobs for teenagers so they can all get a new iphone.

So once we squelch down the consumer system, the brats can move into tent cities (possibly without tents) and they won’t need any iphones because they’ll all be in the same happy commune anyway awaiting delivery of the government cheese … or something like that.

How about some citation of these miraculous claims you're making? Also, in full disclosure, what fossil fuel corporation do you work for?

I don’t think you can win the jobs argument. If you want to argue environmental cost of fossil fuel development you might have something but there can be no question about the economic and job benefits.

I agree you’ll never win an argument with the (cough-cough) “progressives” based on economic benefits or job creation.  To them, it’s irrelevant.  Jobs and economic growth are leftwing kryptonite, as far as they’re concerned.

What fossil fuel company do I work for … ad hominems … is that really the best you can do? Not that its any of your business, but I don’t work for any “fossil fuel” company.

As for the source, there are plenty out there, but this one is the link to the story from above.