How Is Fracking Shaping Your Community and Economy?

Monitoring can help local governments better understand the socioeconomic impacts caused by energy development, and support requests to industry and state government for assistance to implement appropriate mitigation.

  • While energy fracking expands potential employment, income, and tax benefits, it also increases public costs and the need to monitor and asses the impacts of fracking in local communities.
  • The current lack of monitoring can lead to confusion, competing claims, or inaction—with opposing assertions about employment, housing, and transportation impacts of oil and gas drilling.
  • When using accepted practices and done systematically, measuring impacts can help communities validate requests for impact mitigation and can inform adaptive management of the pace and scale of drilling activity.

ranch with barn and drilling rig

Recommendations for Monitoring and Measuring Socioeconomic Impacts

Monitoring can help local governments better understand the socioeconomic impacts caused by energy development, and support requests to industry and state government for assistance to implement appropriate mitigation. Effective monitoring also is an essential part of adaptively managing drilling activity to minimize negative impacts while maximizing benefits.

Unfortunately, no universal system for measuring these impacts currently exists. At the federal level, while socioeconomic impact assessment is required by land use planning laws, it is generally limited to pre-development assessments that rarely occur on an ongoing basis. In addition, few state laws require ongoing impact assessments, and many communities where fracking takes place do not have access to standardized, ongoing data collection and analysis of social and economic impacts.

To help fill this lack of information, Headwaters Economics commissioned two case studies (one on Sublette County, WY and one on Garfield County, CO) by academic experts that provide suggestions for how make socioeconomic monitoring effective and efficient. We recommend what data to track along with ideas for how to approach and develop monitoring protocols to help planners, local leaders, industry, and community members understand and respond to the social and economic impacts of a high intensity industrial activity like fracking.