Battered Ohio Town Finds Hope in Fracking

Rust Belt steelmaking rebounds thanks to controversial gas extraction technique
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2011 10:22 AM CDT
Battered Ohio Town Finds Hope in Fracking
President Barack Obama tours the facilities of V&M Star, a manufacturer of steel tubular goods, Tuesday, May 18, 2010, in Youngstown.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Rust Belt has suffered through decades of decline and job losses, but now a $650 million steel plant, bringing 350 new jobs, is going up in Youngstown, Ohio—and you can thank fracking for the revival, reports the Wall Street Journal. The rise of hydraulic fracturing—the process of extracting natural gas from shale basins—requires huge amounts of steel pipes, rigs, and excavators, spurring the expansion of steel plants around the region. Two other companies are investing $95 million and $50 million, respectively, to upgrade their own Ohio plants.

"I never envisioned a new steel mill in Youngstown," said the town's former mayor, who stepped down yesterday. Although Youngstown alone has lost 20,000 jobs over the past five years, it posted a slight gain last year. "Any improvement is welcome in the area," says a professor of Working Class Studies at Youngstown State University. "But in the larger scheme, there is still rampant loss of employment over the last five years." (Click for more on fracking, and the controversy surrounding it.)

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