FILE - oil well, fracking, pumpjacks

A new study by the American Petroleum Institute (API) credits the economic good news in Eau Claire, in part, to the abundance of affordable fuels wrought by the country’s shale boom recognized through hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking.

“This Is Energy Progress: The State of American Energy 2020” dedicates a significant portion to analyzing the economy in Eau Claire, a municipality, the document asserts, that benefited tremendously from cheap and plentiful fuel. Eau Claire is located in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District.

API research concludes Eau Claire’s unemployment rate is below 3 percent. The industry group says 19,960 jobs in the area are supported by the natural gas and oil industry, approximately 5 percent of the district’s overall employment.

Additionally, the report notes the city’s family income is slightly higher than those throughout the nation. The median family income in Eau Claire is $76,500 compared to about $76,400 nationally.

According to API, the oil, gasoline and petrochemicals industry directly adds more than $1.5 billion to the district’s economy.

 “From decreased energy costs for families to increased investments in school systems and infrastructure, Americans benefit from the economic growth driven by the U.S. natural gas and oil industry,” API President and CEO Mike Sommers said.

“Surprisingly, there are those who respond to this progress with opposition and pushback,” Sommers added. “They suggest that we retreat – by banning hydraulic fracturing, the technology most responsible for U.S. energy leadership and emissions reductions and by promoting policies that would cost our communities jobs and impact our national security.”

Mark Hanke, a Chippewa Hills native and employee of the construction company Market & Johnson, credits the shale-oil boom for the district’s resurgence.

“America’s natural gas and oil renaissance catapulted the region’s industrial sand mine industry and in turn created a path for economic stability and ultimately, growth for Market & Johnson, our employees, and workers across a number of sectors,” Hanke said.

 “We weathered the recession thanks to the energy projects that created jobs and the opportunity for young people to come into our industry,” Terry Hayden, president of the Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association, said.

“These are lifelong careers that provide a good life in Wisconsin, and it’s important to us to provide training resources to prepare them for a bright future.”

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.