Does a gas drilling boom in a community mean higher crime rates, as some have claimed? No, at least not so far, according to a study done by the Justice Center for Research at Penn State University. See the details at:
The study states: "...there were no consistent increases in Pennsylvania State Police incidents/calls for service or Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) arrest statistics in the top Marcellus-active counties." The study looked at crime rates in the 7 counties where drilling is most active: Bradford, Fayette, Greene, Lycoming, Susquehanna, Tioga, and Washington. It compares data for the pre-drilling period of 2006-2007 to 2008-2010 when drilling boomed.
The researchers note that the study period is short and should be extended in order to make firmer conclusions about trends. They also report that crime rates decreased in rural communities with no gas drilling in the study periods. Additionally 75% of the municipalities in the drilling areas of the study do not have their own police forces and rely on the Pennsylvania State Police for coverage.
Gas drilling brings economic growth to communities, and all the benefits and costs associated with a boom. It means jobs for young people and others who need them. It lowers unemployment rates and few things make communities stronger than jobs and lower unemployment rates. It means higher rents that benefit those who have properties to rent and hurts those who must rent. It means more people in restaurants, hotels, and in towns. More people causes more money circulating, more activities, and more services needed. It brings more vehicles to roads, road damage, and road repairs that have built better roads than ever in some places.
There are both opportunities and challenges caused by gas-drilling fueled economic growth for communities. It is not all good or all bad. Yet some descriptions of community impacts of gas drilling are only negative. Perhaps we should all ask the mayors of Reading, Pennsylvania or the Mon Valley whether they would prefer to be dealing with the challenges of economic growth or economic decline.