Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale

Tom Wilber. Cornell Univ., $27.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8014-5016-7
Few ecological concerns are so controversial as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the process by which chemicals are pumped deep into the earth to retrieve natural gas from buried shale deposits. Across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, pro- and anti-fracking forces are marshaling their constituencies for a showdown. Opponents argue that the process will ruin major water supplies, while advocates see huge resources of energy and the prospect of dazzling wealth. Wilber, a former environmental reporter who has been covering the fracking debate from the beginning, combines a storyteller’s ear with a journalist’s eye, offering a sensitive and especially timely take on the issue. Here, the villains that emerge include the landmen, buyers of mineral rights who show up on doorsteps throughout the region offering tempting buyouts, while for heroes, we are introduced to neighbors, such as Victoria Switzer and Ken Ely, two very different people thrown together in the fight to save their homes, and others who took the money offered by the developers and moved on. In the most inspiring passages, Wilber tells how the residents of New York’s Southern Tier and Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, organized, fought, and participated in countless meetings and government hearings to determine the future of their homes and land. This book will be essential background reading for the still-unfolding fracking drama. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-8014-5654-1
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