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.
"Few ecological concerns are so controversial as hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking.' . . . 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. . . . 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."—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Produced by Jonathan Hall of Cornell University Press Photos courtesy of James Pitarresi Video of Norma Fiorentino courtesy of Brady Russell/CLEAN WATER ACTION