White House report promoting fracking cites article pointing out Trump’s wild inflation of job numbers

In a report heralding the president’s job creation in fracking, the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy cited a Pittsburgh City Paper article that pointed out that ‘large fracking companies are divesting from the area’

Louise Boyle
New York
Saturday 24 October 2020 00:05
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A new White House report touting Donald Trump’s policies creating jobs in fracking in Pennsylvania cites a newspaper article highlighting the president’s lies to voters over the sector’s job figures in the state, and notes that “large fracking companies are divesting from the area”.

The  White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, run by trade advisor Peter Navarro, published a report on Wednesday titled “President Trump’s Jobs Plan for Pennsylvania: All Job Creation is Local”. 

The report includes the statistic that 26,000 workers in Pennsylvania are employed in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the oil and gas extraction technique. 

The citation for the jobs figure is a Pittsburgh City Paper article which also points to how Mr Trump has wildly inflated the size of the fracking industry to Pennsylvanian voters while on the campaign trail. 

Titled “Trump inflates Pennsylvania fracking job figures by 3500 percent”, the article states that Mr Trump, during a campaign rally in September in Latrobe "claimed during his speech that there are currently 940,000 natural-gas jobs in Pennsylvania". 

“A gross exaggeration,” the publication noted. 

The article added: “Since 2018, the fracking industry has struggled, as gas prices remain low. In the Pittsburgh region, hundreds of jobs have been lost, and large fracking companies are divesting from the area.”

The Independent has contacted the White House press office for comment.

The Pittsburgh news site’s report references the 26,000 jobs total from an analysis of  Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data conducted by Food & Water Watch (FWW), an environmental advocacy organisation that opposes fracking. 

 The FWW study, from earlier this year, found that “from 2016-2018 approximately 636,000 jobs were directly related to oil and natural gas extraction nationally”. In Pennsylvania there were around 26,000 jobs.

The 2020 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report states that: “Pennsylvania was home to about 97,000 clean energy workers statewide in 2019, and job creation was on the rise."

 Fracking has become a campaign flashpoint in 2020, particularly in the prized swing state of Pennsylvania, the second-largest producer of natural gas in the US behind only Texas. Mr Trump won the state in 2016.

On Thursday, Mr Trump and former vice president Joe Biden sparred over fracking during the final debate with the president repeatedly badgering Mr Biden over remarks he had made about banning fracking. 

“I never said I oppose fracking,” Mr Biden responded.

"We need other industries to transition to get to ultimately a complete zero emissions by 2035," he added, pointing to technologies that would capture emissions from fracking.

A fact-check by CNN shows that in the past, Mr Biden has made conflicting statements on fracking that his campaign later sought to clarify.

During the back and forth with Mr Trump, the former VP said: “ I said, no fracking and/or oil on federal land.”

Mr Biden’s presidential plan to tackle climate change includes “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters”.  Fracking operations are carried out largely on private lands.

It remains unclear how much weight Pennsylvanian voters will give to fracking; according to a CBS/YouGov poll in August, some 52 per cent of Pennsylvanians surveyed opposed the drilling method.

Concern has risen over its adverse health impacts. A study from Harvard University earlier this month found above normal levels of radiation downwind of fracking sites and the Pennsylvania Department of Health said in June that “it is taking steps to learn more about the health risks” following criticism from an investigative grand jury.

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