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

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Cornell University Press, Sep 22, 2015 - Nature - 280 pages

For the updated paperback edition of Under the Surface, Tom Wilber has written a new chapter and epilogue covering developments since the book's initial publication. Chief among these are the home rule movement and accompanying social and legal events leading up to an unprecedented ban of fracking in New York state, and the outcome of the federal EPA's investigation of water pollution just across the state border in Dimock, Pennsylvania. The industry, with powerful political allies, effectively challenged the federal government’s attempts to intervene in drilling communities in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Texas with water problems. But it met its match in a grassroots movement—known as "fractivism"—that sprouted from seeds sown in upstate New York community halls and grew into one of the state’s most influential environmental movements since Love Canal.

Wilber weaves a narrative tracing the consequences of shale gas development in northeast Pennsylvania and central New York through the perspective of various stakeholders. Wilber's evenhanded treatment explains how the revolutionary process of fracking has changed both access to our domestic energy reserves and the lives of people living over them.

He gives a voice to all constituencies, including farmers and landowners tempted by the prospects of wealth but wary of the consequences; policymakers struggling with divisive issues concerning free enterprise, ecology, and public health; and activists coordinating campaigns based on their respective visions of economic salvation and environmental ruin. Throughout the book, Wilber illustrates otherwise dense policy and legal issues in human terms and shows how ordinary people can affect extraordinary events.


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Cracks in the Rock
1 An Agent of Dreams
2 Coming Together
3 Gas Rush
4 Figures Facts and Information
5 Accidental Activists
6 The Division
7 Superior Forces
8 Turf Wars
The Final Say
Note to Readers
List of Figures and Maps

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About the author (2015)

Tom Wilber, a journalist, author, and teacher, has spent years interviewing key players and local residents on all sides of the issue of developing the country's energy supplies through the controversial process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." He is a reporter covering business, health, and environmental issues for Gannett Corporation's Central New York Newspaper Group (including the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin). His reporting on fracking won Best of Gannett honors in 2010. Under the Surface was selected as a finalist for the 2013 New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.

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