Extracting Gas, Exploiting Farmers
Environmental ideological warfare on hydraulic fracking in Pennsylvania
By Robert Clinton, 2015-06-19
In recent years, Pennsylvania, the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States, has become a battleground of environmental ideological warfare between economy-driven businesses and citizens concerned with the health of the community and planet. Hydraulic fracking, the process of pumping high-pressure liquid, usually a sand-water mixture, into underground rocks to better facilitate the extraction of natural gas, is both highly controversial and commonplace in North America’s rural landscape. The latest tension in Pennsylvania, a recent develop in an established controversy, is of note because it complicates this environmental issue by profiling those most negatively impacted by hydraulic fracking in this state. Pro-fracking advocates emphasize the positive impact extracting natural gas has on local economies, but these benefits must be juxtaposed against the socioeconomic profiles of the communities fracking takes place in. In Pennsylvania, according to an article from the most recent Journal of Applied Geography entitled "Spatial distribution of unconventional gas wells and human populations in the Marcellus Shale in the United States: Vulnerability Analysis," the state’s poorest, most rural communities are most negatively impacted by fracking. Impoverished farmers, often with little formal education and living at or just above the United States federal poverty line, make their living from the earth. When agriculture fails to pay the bills, these farmers often turn to leasing portions of their land to natural gas extraction companies. Though the short-term monetary incentives often necessitate that farmers allow their land to be drilled upon, the long-term effects of natural gas extraction have disastrous effects on the community's health and stability. Read more about the communities most negatively affected by hydraulic fracking in Pennsylvania, and what fracking does to the ecosystem, in these reports.
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