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

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Cornell University Press, Jul 9, 2015 - Nature - 304 pages
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Running from southern West Virginia through eastern Ohio, across central and northeast Pennsylvania, and into New York through the Southern Tier and the Catskills, the Marcellus Shale formation underlies a sparsely populated region that features striking landscapes, critical watersheds, and a struggling economic base. It also contains one of the world's largest supplies of natural gas, a resource that has been dismissed as inaccessible—until recently. Technological developments that combine horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") have removed physical and economic barriers to extracting hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of gas from bedrock deep below the Appalachian basin. Beginning in 2006, the first successful Marcellus gas wells by Range Resources, combined with a spike in the value of natural gas, spurred a modern-day gold rush—a "gas rush"—with profound ramifications for environmental policy, energy markets, political dynamics, and the lives of the people living in the Marcellus region. Under the Surface is the first book-length journalistic overview of shale gas development and the controversies surrounding it.

Control over drilling rights is at stake in the heart of Marcellus country—northeast Pennsylvania and central New York. The decisions by landowners to work with or against the companies—and the resulting environmental and economic consequences—are scrutinized by neighbors faced with similar decisions, by residents of cities whose water supply originates in the exploration area, and by those living across state lines with differing attitudes and policies concerning extraction industries. Wilber's evenhanded treatment 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, and activists coordinating campaigns based on their respective visions of economic salvation and environmental ruin. Wilber describes a landscape in which the battle over the Marcellus ranges from the very local—yard signs proclaiming landowners' allegiances for or against shale gas development—to often conflicting municipal, state, and federal legislation intended to accelerate, delay, or discourage exploration.


For millions of people with a direct stake in shale gas exploration in the Marcellus or any number of other emerging shale resources in the United States and worldwide, or for those concerned about the global energy outlook, Under the Surface offers a worthwhile and engaging look at the issues.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - VGAHarris - LibraryThing

A great deal of technical reading but very informative. If you weren't opposed to fracking before reading this book, you will be when you are done. It is another case of rapacious corporations following the profit god without any regard for the environment or people. Read full review

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

User Review  - Linda Loos Scarth - Book Verdict

Central New York journalist Wilber tells the story of a permanent geological scar caused by the search and extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale that underpins the mountains from central ... Read full review

Contents

Cracks in the Rock
1
1 An Agent of Dreams
9
2 Coming Together
30
3 Gas Rush
70
4 Figures Facts and Information
93
5 Accidental Activists
129
6 The Division
165
7 Superior Forces
205
8 Turf Wars
226
The Final Say
275
Note to Readers
289
List of Figures and Maps
293
Notes
295
Index
329
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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 controversial issue of developing the country's energy supplies through the controversial process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." He worked as a reporter covering business, health, and environmental issues for Gannett Corporation's Central New York Newspaper Group (including the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin) for seventeen years. He is now a freelance journalist and blogger for Shale Gas Review, tomwilber.blogspot.com.

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