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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Energy in Depth Finds Four Problems with Report Linking to Fracking to More High School Dropouts

We mentioned a study last week that attempted to draw a connection between shale development and increased high school dropout rates.

Not surprisingly, the oil and gas industry-backed site Energy in Depth has responded to the study.  A new article looks at four reasons to question the conclusions of this report.

Here is a portion of what EID had to say:
Now, it’s rare that you hear anyone arguing against providing well-paying job opportunities for people regardless of their education level. 
But aside from that, the researchers’ claim to have “direct evidence that the effects of fracking on the decision to drop out of high school have been driven by local labor demand shocks that favor the least-educated workers,” is simply not backed up by the facts.  In other words, they actually have no real evidence to claim that shale development has led to a spike in dropout rates. 
Let’s have a look at just a few problems that jumped out at us: 
Problem #1: Researchers’ use of “commuter zones” inflates dropout percentages with urban data 
Rather than using county dropout and oil and gas production data, the researchers use “commuter zones” within major shale plays, which is problematic considering these zones often times extend into urban areas with little or no drilling. More problematic is the fact that urban areas routinely have much higher dropout rates than non-urban areas where a vast majority of shale development occurs.  That can certainly inflate the results to indicate higher dropout rates in drilling areas than actually exist. 
For example, one Pennsylvania commuter zone used in the report includes both Washington County, where significant shale development is occurring, and Allegheny County, which features very little shale development and is dominated by the Pittsburgh metro area. Pittsburgh’s graduation rate has historically been very poor, while Washington County’s dropout rate was just 1.1 percent in 2013-14. 
Similarly, the prominent Pennsylvania shale gas county of Susquehanna had a dropout rate of just .93 percent in 2013-14, but is lumped in a commuter zone with Binghamton, N.Y.  That’s an interesting move considering that shale development has been banned in New York.  Binghamton High School also has a very poor graduation rate when compared to the rest of New York state, but that can hardly be blamed on fracking.
You can read the rest of this article by clicking here.

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