Throughout his presentation Kelsey emphasized that economic studies present only one piece of information - and "not necessarily the most important or most definitive piece,” he said. What do the studies ignore? Potential negative effects on other sectors of the economy; environmental costs and their implications; distribution of tax revenue; and the impact on local government services.
So it is very important that municipal officials put economic studies into context with other issues, Kelsey said. Numerous times. He then talked about how most economic studies are done.
They use computer models. That shouldn't be a surprise. But what is a surprise is that almost all the Marcellus shale studies are based on the same computer modeling software: IMPLAN. While IMPLAN may work for other areas, in the rural northeast it doesn't seem to be too accurate a predictor of economic outcomes because the rural northeast is ... well ... rural.
To date, economic models haven’t considered issues such as road maintenance costs or health and environmental impacts. That’s because no one has plugged them into the model, Kelsey said.
Economic Impact Studies
A November 2008 study by the PA Economy League, funded by an industry association, showed that the industry contributed $7.1 billion in economic output and provided 26,500 jobs.
In July 2009 the same industry association funded another study. This study includes future production estimates in what Kelsey criticized as a "simplistic analysis".
A May 2008 study by the
It's worth repeating what Kelsey noted again and again throughout his webinar: An economic impact study may help municipalities identify potential financial gains from natural gas development, but because of their limitations economic studies cannot be the only thing that communities take into account when considering the economic impacts of Marcellus development.