Fox News guest wildly inflates fracking’s economic footprint in Pennsylvania, lies about John Fetterman’s fracking stance

On the October 19 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends First, co-host Carley Shimkus interviewed guest John Diercks, a former meteorology professor at Penn State University. Diercks proceeded to make several highly dubious statements about fracking, and Shimkus did not push back on any of them.

Firstly, Diercks falsely claimed that Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman would ban fracking in Pennsylvania. Fetterman has been consistently opposed to the idea of a fracking ban in Pennsylvania. As far back as 2019, Fetterman called fracking a "​​vital, thriving industry" in Pennsylvania, and said that “the reality on the ground in Pennsylvania is that it exists and it’s going to continue.” Numerous articles featuring quotes from Fetterman in 2020 and 2021 also show his opposition to a fracking ban. (Fetterman did at one point support a moratorium on fracking, which would stop the practice only until its environmental issues were fixed. This is of course different from an outright, permanent ban). And in last week’s interview with NBC News, Fetterman again expressed support for fracking.

Diercks also discussed the jobs and economic benefits that would be affected by any changes to Pennsylvania’s fracking industry. Without citing any sources, Diercks claimed that fracking supports 40,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and accounts for "$50 billion in Pennsylvania's economy." According to the nonprofit advocacy group PennFuture, “The industry employs about 24,000 people and contributes about $583 million to Pennsylvania’s economy annually.” PennFuture further states, “The industry creates a negligible percentage of Pennsylvania jobs, many of which are outsourced, while taking credit for a broad swath of jobs in other industries.”

As Pennsylvania’s overall GDP stands at roughly $714 billion, fracking accounts for just 0.00082% of Pennsylvania’s economy.

Finally, Diercks claimed that fracking “is not going to be replaced by green jobs any near time in the future.” According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, “At the end of 2020, there were just over 90,000 clean energy workers across Pennsylvania,” which is already vastly more than the unsubstantiated 40,000 fracking jobs number thrown around by Diercks.

During the presidential election in 2020, Fox was obsessed with the idea that Biden would ban fracking if elected president – even though he repeatedly stated on the campaign trail that he would not. Also during that election, Fox (and other cable news outlets) grossly overstated the importance of fracking to Pennsylvania voters. Given this, Fox’s focus on Fetterman and the supposed benefits of fracking here may be a harbinger of things to come.

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Citation From the October 19, 2022, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First

CARLEY SHIMKUS (FOX HOST): That Pennsylvania Senate race we were just talking about remains locked in a dead heat with less than three weeks to go before election day. President Biden is set to campaign with Democrat candidate John Fetterman tomorrow in Philadelphia, but some voters in the Keystone State think Fetterman’s liberal agenda will only make things worse. Air Force veteran and former Penn State instructor John Diercks has lived in Pennsylvania for 33 years. He's got a serious vested interest in the state of course, and he joins me now. John, good morning to you. You say that Fetterman's record and his agenda would really hurt Pennsylvania, specifically on the issues of crime and fracking – job creation. What do you mean by that?

JOHN DIERCKS (PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENT): Well, I think that two items in my letter, one was for fracking and the other was crime. They’re two serious problems in Pennsylvania. Fracking amounts to about 40,000 jobs within Pennsylvania, and if we ban fracking, which in fact John Fetterman wants to do, that would cost us 40,000 good, union jobs. Secondly, it accounts for about $50 billion in Pennsylvania's economy. We are the number two producing state. So we don't want to ban fracking. It is not going to be replaced by green jobs any near time in the future.