Does gas drilling reduce or increase the value of nearby homes? It's a deceptively simple question. Done by Duke University and Resources For the Future, a study of 19,000 properties in Washington County, Pennsylvania from 2004-2009 provides data that thrill and annoy all sides of the fracking wars.
At page 5 of their study, the researchers say the following:
"Using this identification strategy along with data on property
sales in Washington County, Pennsylvania, from 2004 to 2009, we find that
properties are positively affected by the drilling of a shale gas well unless the
property depends on groundwater."
Indeed, it is a big "unless." The researchers find that gas drilling gives and takes.
The winners include those homeowners who have a water utility provide their water. The property values of homes supplied by water lines go up 10.4% after gas drilling. The losers include homeowners who rely on private water wells who see their property values drop 23.6%.
Hopefully, Duke or other researchers do more studies on the impact of gas drilling on property values in more places in Pennsylvania and outside it. The single study is interesting but limited by its focus on just Washington County and sales that took place more than 4 years ago.
This study, however, reminds one more time of a fundamental truth about gas drilling and all energy development--it creates both winners and losers. This fact is why every state but Pennsylvania has enacted a gas drilling tax in order to create widespread benefits for all citizens of a state that host gas production.