Penn State Study Finds No Crime Rate Increase in Drilling Counties

Those who oppose drilling try to make the case that crime rates soar when drilling comes to a community. They say those “out of towners” have a lot of time on their hands in the off hours, and they use it to drink hard and play hard, and that leads to all sorts of criminal mischief. But a new Penn State study finds no evidence that when shale gas drilling comes to town crime rates increase. The preliminary findings of the study, performed by the Justice Center for Research at Penn State, were released in January but only announced just last week (a copy of the preliminary report is embedded below).

There are no definitive findings that Marcellus Shale drilling activity has affected crime rates in Pennsylvania, but more study is needed, according to a preliminary report conducted recently by the Justice Center for Research at Penn State. The report was produced in response to public concerns that crime rates may be on the rise in areas experiencing drilling-related population growth.

The study tracks several measures of crime in Pennsylvania’s most active Marcellus Shale drilling regions, in the Northern Tier and the south-western corner of the commonwealth, beginning in 2006 (before the start of significant drilling activity in Pennsylvania) and ending in 2010. After the Marcellus Shale drilling “break-out” period, defined by researchers as intensified drilling activity that began in 2008, there were no consistent increases in arrests or calls to the Pennsylvania State Police in counties with high Marcellus-drilling activity. However, researchers noted a steady decline in calls to State Police in rural counties that have seen no Marcellus activity.

“In the three years since the Marcellus break-out period in 2008, there was a difference in the trends of State Police incidents in Marcellus and non-Marcellus drilling areas, but the difference isn’t so striking that we can say, ‘there’s definitely something here,’” said Lindsay Kowalski, research associate in the Justice Center for Research. “More time needs to elapse before we can identify strong trends.”*

*Penn State Live (Feb 21, 2012) – Crime rates unsettled in Marcellus Shale drilling areas, study finds