The impacts of shale drilling in Tioga County, both positive and negative, were part of a series of findings presented Thursday in a conference call discussion.
The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative brought together independent, nonpartisan research organizations in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia to monitor economic trends and community impacts of energy extraction in the Marcellus and Utica shales.
Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, and Steven Hertzenburg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center, discussed the similarities and differences of impacts in Tioga and Greene counties.
The multi-state research collaborative launched last year in five states overlapping Marcellus and Utica shales with the goal to promote public policies and serve the public good.
In Tioga County the study found that the industry activity was akin to "a real natural gas bust."
"The industry pulled out almost as quickly as it came, gains were reversed, businesses closed and unemployment returned," Ward said.
"We recommend state policymakers begin to acknowledge both sides of the industry coin, including higher costs on the negative side," she said.
The group also recommended the industry be "adequately taxed, so taxpayers aren't footing the bill, and that there be managed economic growth and managed impact."
"We did see some success, and models that can be employed in other counties," Ward said, such as the impact fee in Pennsylvania, which has a portion dedicated to affordable housing in shale drilling areas; that seems to be working well."
Both Tioga and Greene counties saw drilling activity really disruptive during the boom years of 2010-12, "though things seem to have returned to normal in Tioga County as the industry moved away," Ward said.
Crime grew by 31 percent in Greene County from 2002-10, while crime statewide fell by 6 percent. There also was an increase in out-of-state workers, which made the housing shortage worse and caused an increase in demand for homeless services.
"Tioga County had to open its first-ever homeless shelter," Ward said.
One tragic side effect, Ward noted, was more children were put into foster care, into the protective system because families were unable to find adequate housing.
School district official talked about a decline in the number of core students, with low-income families leaving the county for lower cost housing elsewhere.
"Income was limited with many landowners living out of the area, and a number of benefits came with costs, such as rents increased making housing less available for low-income households, increases in road repair costs, demands on human services agencies grew and we found local officials largely unprepared on how to manage or address the local concerns that arose quickly," she said.
In both counties, officials stated they were unprepared for the level of activity and had very little control.
"They found themselves always playing catch-up to the industry, trying to work with the industry to address and manage what was happening," she said.
Though employment grew in the county by 4.7 percent, economic benefits in Tioga County abated, there was not as much growth and it did slip away, she added.
Unemployment between 2010-12 fell below the state average, then rose again above state average.
"Tioga is once again above the state average," she said.
Tioga County also had an increase in crime by 31 percent, higher rents, increased homelessness, police saw an increase in arrests, there were more new court cases and a higher inmate count in jail. One finding across both counties was the issue of heavy truck traffic, wear and tear on roads not designed to carry the volume of heavy truck traffic and safety on the roads, according to Ward.
For complete information on the study, visit multistateshale.org.