NY Post Criticized for Fracking Study Spin

A recent New York Post editorial that touted the supposed benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, cited a study that was paid for by the natural gas industry. Unfortunately, no one reading the New York Post pro-fracking piece would have known that, according to a report from Media Matters.

The study cited by the Post, which was conducted by Penn State University, purportedly found that fracking would boost the Pennsylvania economy by $12.8 billion this year, and had played a role in the creation of 140,000 jobs. The study also found that the industry paid $573 million in other state and local taxes in 2009, and just over $1 billion last year. The report, however, did not address the issues of a state tax on extracted gas – Pennsylvania doesn’t have one – and possible water pollution related to fracking.

The New York Post editorial, titled “Just the Fracks,” calls on Governor Andrew Cuomo to quickly move to allow fracking in New York, citing the economic benefits promised by the Penn State study:

“Even if the report is a bit overstated, as critics claim, it nonetheless suggests the kind of notable economic rewards that may be possible from fracking — particularly in Upstate’s blighted Southern Tier, home to the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.”

The Post editorial does not mention that the Penn State fracking study was paid for by the industry group Marcellus Shale Coalition, even though that fact has been widely reported in other media, and was disclosed by the Penn State researchers themselves.

According to Media Matters, two of the Penn State study authors, Timothy J. Considine and Robert Watson, previously wrote two reports also sponsored by the Marcellus Shale Coalition. In 2009, they were taken to task by the dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences for failing to disclose the coalitions funding in an initial version of one of those.

Critics of the latest Penn State study have slammed it for exaggerating the facts this time around, something the Post editorial mildly alludes to. Sharon Ward, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a major state think tank, disputed claims the $1 billion tax revenue figure from last year in a Reuters report. She said state Department of Revenue figures show it to be about $219 million.

Ward also took issue with the employment figures, noting they included ancillary workers, such as restaurant wait staff and lawyers. Jobs related solely to core drilling industries numbered only around 19,000, she told Reuters.

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