Julia Ruxin: Key Profiles

There are many groups or organizations of people that play key roles in fracking economics. This section of the chapter will provide information about four of the most important groups of people impacted by the economics involved with fracking. The groups are: Department of Revenue, Department of Environmental Protection, Gas drilling companies, and residents living in drilling areas.
The first group discussed is the Department of Revenue. Each state has this department. In Pennsylvania, the department’s “mission is to fairly, efficiently, and accurately administer the tax laws and other revenue programs of the commonwealth to fund necessary government services” (PA Department of Revenue). This Department is relevant to fracking because it collects all the revenue from the taxes previously discussed in this chapter. It is the Department of Revenue’s responsibility to make sure the different players in the fracking industry are paying all appropriate taxes to the state and that taxes are collected efficiently. The Department of Revenue can then calculate increases or decreases in tax collections over time, which serves as great indicators of economic activity. For more information on Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue, visit the Department of Revenue website, which provides phone numbers and mailing addresses for the various offices within the department.
Another important group involved in fracking economics is the state Department of Environmental Protection. The Office of Oil and Gas within the DEP is “responsible for the statewide oil and gas conservation and environmental programs to facilitate the safe exploration, development, recovery of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas reservoirs in a manner that will promote the commonwealth’s natural resources and the environment” (PA Department of Environmental Protection). This department has a Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission that released a report in 2011 calling for stronger drilling regulations that increased bond requirements to $10,000 for deeper wells and tripled the setback distance from streams, ponds, and other bodies of water from 100 to 300 feet. The Department of Environmental Protection protects the community from consequences from fracking by regulating economic factors in addition to environmental ones. For more information on Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection visit the Oil and Gas Section of the Department of Environmental Protection’s website, or e-mail RA- epcontactus@pa.gov.
While the Department of Revenue and Department of Environmental Protection are both government organizations, there are many groups involved in fracking economics that are not government agencies. Gas drilling companies are clearly essential to the entire fracking industry. Economically, they are responsible for paying landowners leasing fees and royalty payments. They must also pay bonding requirements and impact fees to the state when necessary. Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation is one company that has been highly involved in the fracking community. It has undergone a lot of controversy due to improper well closures that caused property damage to residents in Dimock, Pennsylvania. Cabot reported spending $109,000 on methane removal for 14 local households in Dimock, PA. Additionally, Cabot reports to have spent $730,000 per well to cap three shale wells in Pennsylvania (Dutzik and Ridlington 2012). Cabot, along with the many other gas companies across the nation, contribute to economics associated with fracking through the many payments they make at the state, county, and personal level. To contact Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation, call (281) 589-4600.
A fourth important group of people involved in fracking economics is residents living in areas affected by the drilling. Residents are involved in economics because they are the ones who receive payments from lease agreements and royalties, which increases their taxable income. Additionally, the residents suffer the indirect economic consequences, such as road and property damage, from fracking. To find out more information about the involvement of and impact on residents in drilling areas, contact government officials from those counties. The Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners in Susquehanna County is Alan M. Hall. Call (570) 278-4600, the Susquehanna County Court House for more information.
This section has provided profiles on four of the most important groups in fracking economics, but there are many more parties involved.