When Fracking Comes to Town

Hydraulic fracking has been a common practice for 15-20 years, and along the way, it has transformed places like North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas’ Permian Basin.   But we’re only now starting to see some serious reflection on what happens “when fracking comes to town.”  How do communities respond when this new industry begins local operations, and what happens when the fracking boom subsides?  That’s the focus of a new book with the appropriate title of “When Fracking Comes to Town:  Governance, Planning and Economic Impacts of the US Shale Boom,” edited by Sabina E. Dietrick and Ilia Murtazashvili.  This edited volume examines topics such as state and local fracking regulations, the local effects of boomtime economies, and the effects of shale energy development on local labor markets.

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I’ve contributed a chapter to this volume, along with my colleagues Marty Romitti and Mark White.  Our chapter examines the impact of Marcellus Shale development on manufacturing in Pennsylvania.  As such, I’m a biased reviewer.  But I can still highly recommend this book.   I’ll also recommend a new related book, Up to Heaven and Down to Hell, which is a deep dive ethnography of the impact of fracking in Williamsport, PA—ground zero for Marcellus Shale Development.  I’ve not yet had a chance to read this new book, but I did listen to an excellent podcast (from the highly recommend Resources Radio podcast), with the book’s author, Colin Jerolmack, who spent eight years working on this story. All of these resources offer excellent insights into one of the most recent and consequential shifts in rural economies.