The Latin phrase "cui bono?" can be loosely translated as "who benefits?" I asked that question recently to a resident of a county that is ground zero in Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, aside from the companies involved. (By the way, there are a lot of different companies involved in the process. It's not like, say a US Steel plant back in the day where one company does the whole thing. One firm may clear pads, another one drill, another frack, another lay pipe, several others haul equipment, sand and water, etc.)
Here are some of the people identified as benefiting:
*the out of state workers who drive, drill, frack, etc.;
*the owners of businesses like motels, convenience stores, restaurants, and other businesses that cater to the industry and those who work in it;
*big landowners who own the mineral rights to their own land--something that doesn't happen as often as you might think--and who can locate some well pads far enough away from their living quarters to generate some income without ruining their quality of life. Ditto absentee owners.
I had a conversation with a union official yesterday asking about whether local and/on union workers (preferably both) were getting anything out of it. He said that some were, particularly in the pipeline end. Some unions represented at various points in the process are Laborers, Operating Engineers, and Teamsters, with some others.
I'm glad there are some winners outside CEOs and stockholders. But I'd like to see the numbers increase. Better regulation, more protections for the environment, more transparency, more efforts to hire local workers would be a start.
At the risk of being a broken record, West Virginia as a whole could be a winner if we set aside some of the revenue from natural gas to create a Future Fund to help transition our economy beyond mineral extraction.
LIES, TRUTH, THINGS UNSAID AND THE POLITICS OF COAL. Here's a great post from Ken Ward's Coal Tattoo that lays it all on the line.