New Report Shows How Fracking Could Boost California's Economy

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U-T San Diego leads the discussion on solutions to California’s economy in bipartisan effort to support job growth and increase economic output.

Fracking could create up to 2.8 million jobs, increase the state’s total economic output by up to 14.3 percent, boost state and local tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually.

A new series of U-T San Diego reports that illustrate in detail how fracking could change the future of California’s economy is the latest installment in a U-T San Diego-led, bipartisan effort aimed at addressing the most pressing issues facing the Golden State.

A recent USC study released March 12, 2013, found that by 2020 fracking could create up to 2.8 million jobs, increase the state’s total economic output by up to 14.3 percent, boost state and local tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually, and increase aggregate state personal income by up to 10 percent. Yet it remains mired in controversy because of concerns among some environmentalists.

Tackling the subject with research from award-winning reporters and political figures from the Democratic and Republican parties, U-T San Diego is engaging its audience online, in print and on its own television station, U-T TV. The publishing company is earning praise for an op-ed piece by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Wrote Hickenlooper: “We’ve shown that strong regulations, responsible operators and an engaged public combine to make hydraulic fracturing a safe and critical part of our energy picture.”

And the benefits are profound. “A recent study from international consulting firm HIS found unconventional oil and gas accounted for 77,000 jobs and $5.9 billion in labor income in Colorado in 2012,” Hickenlooper wrote. “The same study also found the industry in Colorado provided nearly $3 billion in public revenues through tax payments, with abut half of that to state and local governments.”

Roger Hedgecock addressed the issue on his program, which airs on U-T TV. Award-winning U-T reporter Steven Greenhut’s compelling piece, entitled, “Oil Fracking Taps Well of Resentment,” investigated how the debate is being played out among industry insiders and environmentalists. And U-T San Diego’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Breen captured the debate in one of his most compelling illustrations.

U-T San Diego editorial writer Chris Reed put the debate into perspective with his op-ed, noting that a new state law mandates that permits be approved before fracking can be used and that the environmental effects of fracking, particularly on groundwater, be monitored.

The impacts will be profound, Reed wrote:
“The Golden State is home to enormous oil reserves in sedimentary rock formations thousands of feet below ground known as shale. The Monterey Shale formation, beneath the Central Valley and a coastal and offshore chunk of the Los Angeles Basin, contains more than 15 billion barrels of oil that can be accessed using fracking, according to a 2011 U.S. Energy Information Administration analysis. That’s nearly two-thirds of the total oil shale reserves in the entire nation.”

The topic is among those being investigated by the U-T San Diego Editorial Board, in partnership with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. The project, called Fixing California, is a collaborative effort of weekly editorials and independent commentaries about the many problems tarnishing the Golden State.

The main goal of the bipartisan project is to offer insights into the issues that continue to plague the state and to ignite a dialogue on how to repair these problems – from city and state financial crises to school reform, neglected infrastructure, a challenging business climate, and environmental policies. The series of articles and commentaries are based on in-depth research and lengthy interviews with key Democrats and Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom; Treasurer Bill Lockyer; Controller John Chiang; Senate President Darrell Steinberg; former Gov. Pete Wilson; Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway; California Republican Party chairman and former legislator Jim Brulte; Sen. Mark Wyland, the dean of the San Diego County delegation in Sacramento; and others in and out of state government. The series will conclude with recommendations for the best path forward for California.

The installment on fracking has led to numerous letters to the editor, countless discussions in living rooms and dinner tables, and lively debate on social networking sites. “Nice piece by Steven Greenhut on California’s new fracking law,” tweeted

Media interested in interviewing with Chris Reed, Steve Greenhut or others involved with the project should contact U-T San Diego Editor Jeff Light at 619-293-1201, or jeff(dot)light(at)utsandiego(dot)com; or by U-T San Diego Editorial Page Editor William Osborne at 619-293-1395, or bill(dot)osborne(at)utsandiego(dot)com. Permission to republish the articles can also be obtained by contacting either Light or Osborne.

Links to the stories, video and Steve Breen cartoon are:
About U-T San Diego
The 144-year-old San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC, owned by MLIM, LLC, is San Diego’s leading media company and its most comprehensive source of news and information. Each week, U-T San Diego products reach more than 96 percent of all San Diego County households through the combined strength of its integrated media portfolio: the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, U-T San Diego; the web site, UTSanDiego,com; the Night + Day weekly entertainment guide; Spanish-language products, Enlace and Vida Latina; an all-day local television station, U-T TV, and additional home-delivered products.

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George Bonaros
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