Cracked: 15 Things to Know About Gas, Money and Power

By Eric Roston and Tom Randall - 2014-02-21T13:10:53Z

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Resources for the Future, U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. GRAPHIC: ALEX TRIBOU & DAVE MERRILL/BLOOMBERG VISUAL DATA

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Gas is Money

We burn natural gas to heat our buildings and cook our food. It’s a feedstock for pharmaceuticals and high-end chemicals. And it fueled about 27 percent of our electricity generation in 2013. More gas means lower costs and less fretting over energy. That’s why a 2012 study by the Bipartisan Policy Center observed that “lower prices have created what is essentially an economic stimulus.”

The gas boom has also led to significant job gains in the oil-and-gas sector. The number of people exploring for gas, drilling wells or operating extraction equipment rose 62 percent since 2000. Harder to quantify are wider economic gains in gas-producing communities. Studies on the Marcellus shale, for example, suggest a range of 24,000 to 44,000 jobs created in 2009, with an economic boost of $3 billion to $3.9 billion. 

Tempering the economic allure is the fear of fracking. New York State is weighing the economic benefits of fracking against its potential costs to the environment, health and tourism. The environmental commissioner has said he won’t issue any regulations before April 2015.

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