Job Argument in Question as Hess, Newfield Back Out of Wayne County

natural gas drilling

The most common argument that the Republican Party throws against climate change supporters is that there is uncertainty over the effects of human-caused global warming. Most climate researchers say that there is a general agreement that greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming. Despite this fact, many Republican senators, such as Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, are quick to rebut that the climate is always changing, or that solar flares, natural carbon dioxide emissions, and cosmic rays may be the root cause of current weather problems.

“The climate has and will always be changing because there are influences on our climate that will always be outside Congress’s control,” asserted Vitter on a recent hearing discussing global warming.

Facing such stubborn opposition, Democratic lawmakers are slowly starting to attack the GOP’s second most common argument against global warming – jobs.

“What we need to talk about is jobs. … [Democrats and President Barack Obama] are willing to bet the economy today on an uncertain prediction about the future,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming.

His main challenge is against the Democrats’ recent push towards sustainable development and reduced carbon emissions through hard greenhouse gas regulations. Barrasso asserts that these efforts could raise the cost of energy, could put fossil fuel producers out of business, and could lead to a loss in jobs.

However, as issues come to light over the side effects of fossil fuel plants, many local citizens are starting to unite oppose their development.  One prime example that recently broke ground is over the end of fracking in Wayne County. Hess and Newfield, the two major gas companies that leased land in Wayne County, recently decided to cancel their leases in Marcellus shale. The two companies ultimately moved their projects out of the County – as well as much of northeastern PA. Anti-fracking alliances are claiming credit for this recent change in events, stating that the successful push for a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River bBasin and in New York State helped deter the companies away from significant development.

Interestingly, the two companies sent letters stating that they “have elected to release your lease, thus your lease will not be continued to the development phase.” The two companies terminated almost 1,500 leases covering over 100,000 acres of land.

In the wake of this event, many climate change supporters are starting to point fingers. How much money was lost buying land and maintaining leases? How many jobs were lost because they decided to pull out before continuing to the development phase? While this event is definitely a great step forward, it certainly raises the question: just how harmful is it to support an unpopular industry?

Jerico is an English and Creative Writing student at the University of Toronto. He believes strongly in technology’s potential to reverse the damage that’s been done to the environment – if we can only cooperate as a global community! He hopes that, by writing progressive and informed articles, he too can make a difference in his community.