Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
[Editor’s Note: The Heinz Endowments is an elitist enterprise dedicated to fractivism as a report from the Ohio River Valley Institutes demonstrates.]
For the past week or so we’ve spotted stories in the Democrat press (i.e. mainstream news) about a so-called “research report” issued by a front organization for the Heinz Endowments called the Ohio River Valley Institute (ORVI). The ORVI recently released a report that purports to show the fracking miracle in the Marcellus/Utica hasn’t actually created all that many jobs or economic benefits. Here’s the first tip this report is a scam and a sham: The lead researcher from the so-called ORVI doesn’t live in the Ohio River Valley nor anywhere near the M-U, he’s a playwright who lives thousands of miles away on the Left Coast, in Washington State. In other words, the report is fiction.
Here’s the second tip this “report” is a scam and a sham: Cornell University’s Tony Ingraffea, thoroughly discredited by making false claims that coal is a cleaner energy source than natural gas (because he’s an irrational hater of fracking), sits on ORVI’s advisory board.
And, of course, the ORVI is nothing more than a front group, yet another name for, the ultra-left, biased and virulent anti-fossil fuel Heinz Endowments. This “report” is the intellectual equivalent of toilet paper. And yet so-called mainstream news picks it up and regurgitates it unquestioningly. Such is what happens in a society that is rapidly moving to eliminate free speech.
MDN friend Nicole Jacobs from Energy in Depth has the details on this scam/sham report:
While Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia have overwhelmingly seen economic growth and development thanks to what’s often called the “game-changing” shale revolution in the Appalachian Basin, the latest attempt from deeply biased, openly anti-oil and gas “researchers” pushes a false narrative signifying otherwise.
Coining the region as “Frackalachia,” the report conducted by the Heinz Endownment-funded Ohio River Valley Institute (ORVI) relies on fuzzy, cherry-picked data and ignores important context and factors indicative of economic growth to claim the expansion of gas production in the region has not delivered the anticipated “jobs and prosperity.” In fact, this report was so cherry-picked and such a mischaracterization of the region that a U.S. congressmen weighed in on just how wrong they got it. As Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH) explained:
“This so-called report is nothing more than a scam to undermine the energy sector, which has long withstood slanderous labels and stereotypes that demean the livelihoods of blue-collar workers. In reality, thousands of Ohioans rely on energy jobs to support their families, and in turn, these jobs lay the foundation for the regions’ total economy by supporting small local suppliers, restaurants, and more. Rather than attacking these jobs, we should be asking ourselves where Ohio would be without the oil and gas industry—and the reliable, affordable energy it produces.
“Clearly, despite what this think tank’s report claims, the oil and gas industry creates hundreds of thousands of well-paying, steady jobs for Ohioans.” (emphasis added)
Given this, ORVI’s claims come as a surprise for many local leaders in the region who credit natural gas as for the Rust Belt’s revival:
Norm Blanchard, Guernsey County Port Authority
“The oil and gas activity in Guernsey County represented a catalyst to our local culture, which impacted every aspect of our economy. Our unemployment rate was reduced almost in half and has remained there due in part to residual energy activities.” (emphasis added)
Mick Schumacher, Monroe County Commissioner
“Monroe County has seen firsthand the positive impact natural gas has had on our region. A major employer left town a few years ago and we would have been a ghost town without oil and gas. It saved us. These new jobs in the industry went to our residents and they have spent their hard-earned dollars on their farms and in our communities. We support what they are doing and want it to continue for many years into the future. “ (emphasis added)
Nick Homrighausen, Executive Director of the Harrison County Community Improvement Corp.
“The article in the Dispatch is only telling one side of the story and chooses not to focus on the positives that have taken place in our region and state over the past 10 years. Regionally, our county’s coffers have been improved and allowed for some reinvestment in much needed infrastructure. Specifically, in Harrison County the oil and gas growth allowed our county to be the fastest growing in Ohio and ranked #4 in the nation in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, according to a 2019 Wall Street Journal article. The county recorded a 129.5% GDP growth rate from 2012 to 2015, and a GDP amount of $732.2 million. Manufacturing was found to be the fastest-growing industry.”
Larry Cain, a Belmont County farmer who shared his incredible story with EID previously, said:
“Over the last 7 years on the Cain family dairy farm, we have been able to repair or build new buildings, purchase equipment, and automate the feeding and milking of the dairy herd, all things that help us operate safer and more efficient. We could not have done all of this without the additional income from the development of the natural gas on our property. Our farm has a much brighter future now and for generations to come.” (emphasis added)
In Pennsylvania, similar sentiments could be shared (and are described in abundance each year) about the significant Impact Tax revenue that gets distributed annually across the state.
Misuse of Data
If there were any doubts about the scientific research that went into this report, just ask lead researcher Sean O’Leary, and he’ll confirm that there’s “almost no math going on here.”
That rings true, as the researchers purposefully skewed data by picking and choosing which counties to analyze, inaccurately quantifying jobs, and ignoring many large-scale investments that brought jobs and critical revenue to communities, among other important economic indicators.
By solely focusing on the counties where wells are drilled, there are significant gaps in the data accounting for individuals who live outside of those counties yet work in them.
In Pennsylvania, for example, large scale manufacturing projects like Shell’s petrochemical complex, were omitted despite upwards of 7,000 jobs being created, primarily by those in the building trades.
Another lapse in their analysis, an Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) report recently showed highest personal income growth in Pa. was realized by the counties where shale production occurs. Supporting more than 300,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone, the natural gas industry has brought good paying jobs, cleaner air, and a more diverse economy.
Counties throughout Ohio, too, have seen significant economic growth. The report focuses on Belmont, Carroll, Jefferson, Harrison, Guernsey, Noble, and Monroe counties between 2008-2019 – all of which on average have experienced a 36.7 percent increase in personal income per capita, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.
You’re Obviously Not From Around Here
Don’t let the “independent” think tank’s name fool you into assuming they have an actual presence in or around the Ohio Valley. While a select few of them call the region home, a majority of the group’s staff – including the lead researcher of the latest “study” – live and work in the state of Washington.
And ORVI can hardly call themselves independent, as a quick review of their supporters – who aren’t disclosed in the report or on the group’s website – unveils deep ties to some of the most well known “anti-fracking activists” in the book, including Cornell University’s Anthony Ingraffea. Not only does Ingraffea sit on ORVI’s advisory board, but the “self-admitted advocate” against fracking has also been an Earthworks board member – a group that vehemently opposes fracking and stood by its organizer when she equated it with “rape” – and helped found Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy – an organization that has released several health studies that blame fracking for a multitude of ailments and have been heavily criticized by other environmental groups.
With the institute’s clear agenda and support from biased, out-of-touch donors, it’s no wonder the report paints such an inaccurate picture of how former Rust Belt towns have transformed into mini- “energy corridors” of the east – all thanks to natural gas.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition has also done a superb job in exposing this report for the outright fraud it is:
The author, a playwright, admits “no math going on here” in deeply inaccurate so-called economic analysis
Despite a decade-plus record of supporting tens-of-thousands of jobs, bringing union halls to full employment, and driving community growth across the region, a recent report from a newly activist group – the Ohio River Valley Institute – claims natural gas development has “failed to deliver jobs and prosperity.”
That sure comes as a surprise to many Pennsylvanians who’ve experienced the very real, game-changing economic benefits tied to safe, responsible natural gas development. When asked this fall on CBS This Morning, for example, what “fracking” has meant to the region, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (D) didn’t hesitate: “It’s huge,” Fitzgerald said.
Across the political spectrum, among business and labor communities, farmers and suburbanites, there’s agreement – natural gas is essential to Pennsylvania’s economy.
“I can tell you, in 2010, my local was at about 10% unemployment,” Jim Kunz, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 business manager told the New York Times last year. “Natural gas started to come here in about 2010. Within a year to a year and a half, we went from 10% unemployment to actually over employment. I had to look for people. We went to full employment, and we’ve been at or near full employment, and occasionally over employed, since.”
In northeastern Pennsylvania, Larry Allison, Jr., co-owner of a crane company, shared with the New York Times in 2020 that the natural gas sector “created high-paying jobs” with local crane operators “making $10 per hour more than they were before” shale development took off.
Yet, dubbing the region “Frackalachia”, the self-described “independent” Ohio River Valley Institute uses cherry-picked data and omits key economic indicators for a junk science report that’s hardly reflective of what our communities have experienced.
These deeply inaccurate findings should come as no surprise, though. The report’s author, who lives in Washington state, even admitted to the Post-Gazette that “there is almost no math going on here” in the so-called economic report.
The news outlet also reports ORVI, which formed a handful of months ago and refuses to transparently disclose its funders, “advocates…to shift away from fossil fuel extraction” and “has received funding from the Heinz Endowments,” a group with a long history of bankrolling anti-natural gas activism.
Further, the organization’s staff and advisory board is as a “who’s who” of well-known activists who’ve spent more than a decade trying to ban safe, responsible, job-creating shale gas development.
“We understand that some activist organizations and their allies across the country seek to advance a narrative aimed at marginalizing and undercutting these tens of thousands of family-sustaining jobs as well as the natural gas industry’s community benefits,” Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Callahan said.
“Writing from Washington state, the report’s author – a playwright – has said ‘the natural gas boom has manifestly failed to deliver jobs and prosperity.’ We’d strongly encourage the ‘researcher’ to visit Washington or Lycoming County.”
Let’s take a look at what we know about this newly formed activist group and how their latest “research” misses the mark.
Bankrolled by Heinz Endowments
While claiming to be “independent,” ORVI does not transparently disclose its funding sources. While the group says they’re based in Johnstown as a project of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, four of the five listed ORVI staff live out-of-state in Washington (see here, here, here) and West Virginia.
It’s not clear why ORVI is not transparent about its funding sources, but according to the Post-Gazette, ORVI has received Heinz Endowments funding. Heinz records don’t show direct grants to ORVI, rather, the endowments gave nearly $1 million to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies in 2020 “to advance sustainability in the region through protection of environment, health and climate.” The foundation, which has a long history of bankrolling anti-natural gas organizations, also supported three groups in the tri-state area – Keystone Research Center, Policy Matters Ohio, and the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (the group ORVI staff member Ted Boettner founded and previously led) – with $150,000 in grants to “advance a sustainable economic vision for the Ohio River Valley.”
The New York-based Park Foundation, another notable foundation for their funding of anti-natural gas activities, also gave $70,000 to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies in 2020 for an “environmental health project and policy development.”
Activist Leadership, Board
From its staff to the advisory council, ORVI’s team is a list of notable, well-known environmental activists with a long, clear record of trying to ban shale development. Consider Joanne Kilgour, the group’s executive director, who previously led up the Pennsylvania Sierra Club and Center for Coalfield Justice. Kilgour has actively campaigned to stop natural gas development and repeatedly called for a “complete ban on fracking.”
Anthony Ingraffea, who identifies as an anti-fracking activist and sits on ORVI’s advisory board, has produced a number of scientifically debunked studies related to shale development, and is affiliated with well-known groups such as “Artists Against Fracking”, the Park Foundation, and PSE.
Others on the advisory board are associated with Heinz Endowments-backed groups such as Matt Mehalik, executive director of the Breathe Project, who has promised to make the region “off limits to fracking” and Dr. Jill Kriesky, previously with the Southwestern Pa. Environmental Health Project, a group opposed to shale development.
“No Math Going On Here”
The author’s admission that “there is almost no math going on here” is a stunningly candid admission for a so-called economic report. The report cherry picks specific counties to focus on very narrow population subsets, ignoring broader regional job and economic indicators. For example, the economic and job multiplier tied to shale gas extends across the Commonwealth, not just the handful of counties they selected.
In fact, according research from PwC for API, the natural gas and oil sector supports 300,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, ranging from “rig hands” to truckdrivers, to utility workers and other service personnel. And if the U.S. were to “ban fracking,” as some politicians push, Pennsylvania would lose more than 600,000 good-paying jobs and have a $23.4 Billion hit to state and local tax revenue – among other crippling impacts, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported in 2019.
The report purposefully ignores this broad job multiplier by excluding counties surrounding Washington and Greene. This exclusion skews the data by assuming that an individual must live in the county where he or she works to be counted as a shale-related job. This is an objectively false assumption and ignores a significant part of the population who live in Allegheny County, for example, but drive a couple miles south to Washington County for work. Or people who live in Uniontown, Fayette County – which is omitted from the report – and drive a few miles west to work in neighboring Greene.
Similarly, the report dismisses the petrochemical manufacturing facility under construction in Beaver County, which represents the largest private investment in Pennsylvania since WWII and created upwards of 7,000 good-paying jobs, including many union, during its construction. That plant in Beaver County, which the report completely ignored, wouldn’t be possible without local ethane production and has driven employment growth across the tri-state region.
Ignores Key Indicators of Economic Prosperity
While ORVI was purposefully selective in its statistics, the group also ignored key indicators that contribute to community wellbeing and economic prosperity. Factors such as impact fee disbursements ($2 billion since 2012), state tax revenues (more than $5 billion), public and private lease and royalty payments ($10 billion), or the ~$1,200 average household consumer energy savings are objective, important facts in driving local economic gains.
Each of these factors has a significant economic impact on its own, but are pushed aside because they don’t fit ORVI’s pre-determined anti-natural gas narrative.
Consider this fact. The Independent Fiscal Office reported last year that personal income growth from 2016-2018 was the highest in counties with shale development. Greene County had the highest growth rate in the Commonwealth, with a 7.5% increase. Susquehanna County also made the top five list with a 6.7% growth rate. The trend continues with Washington (6.3%), Bradford (5%) and Lycoming (4.6%) all beating the state average.
What’s more, Pittsburgh was recognized as the “most successful” Rust Belt city comeback, with the 2019 acknowledgement citing the “steady supply of well-paying, blue-collar jobs” from the Marcellus shale industry as a primary driver.
“Our region’s diverse and broad-based energy workforce, and the significant economic, environment, and climate benefits that clean natural gas continues to deliver for consumers, is without question,” MSC’s Callahan said. “We’re proud of this work and committed to advancing a fact-based dialogue on policies to move Pennsylvania forward.”
Editor’s Note: EID and the MSC (along with Jim, of course) have decimated this pseudo-science venture by the Heinz Endowments, but there are a couple of additional points worth mentioning, starting with the fact the report gives the game away by calling natural gas development a “resource curse.” The data offered is simply meaningless because of the comparisons with U.S. averages rather than the experience of comparable rural counties without gas and doesn’t tell us where these counties stood prior to natural gas development. The whole thing is a Heinz Endowments financed piece of sophistry of zero credibility.
Yet, the Heinz Endowments fooled them all again. Read Ken Silverstein’s lapdog piece in Forbes, of all places, for a first class example of this. Or, the Pittsburgh City Paper regurgitation of the ORVI press release. Or, the Youngstown Business Journal coverage of the ORVI formation, with no mention of the anti-development Heinz Endowments role in funding the enterprise. It’s absolutely sickening how far journalism has fallen in this country; fallen to the point it is now nothing but the communication arm of the American oligarch, of which the Heinz Endowments is a prime example.
This post appeared first on Natural Gas Now.