As a Pennsylvania resident living above the Marcellus Shale, the swift invasion of natural gas companies through my hometown came without much community conversation. I feel as if the complexity of the issues went largely over our heads and under our feet, but I felt especially out of the loop. I don’t think I talked to anyone about it until I saw the first well built along the road I would take to school. I wonder how neighbors in a small community may have talked about these events as they unraveled.
(John pulls up to Bill’s garage in his pickup truck filled with freshly cut firewood.)
John: Hey Bill. I was just driving out to grab some dinner at Connie’s and I saw your cows were loose.
Bill: Yea, my son’s taking care of that. We’ve been all over the place this week. You know, with the fair coming up this week, and the weather, and these guys calling and showing up to our house trying to put up their gas wells in our corn fields.
John: Yea, they showed up at my place this morning!, Couldn’t of asked for better luck after such an awful year for our garden.
Bill: You don’t mean you’re thinking about taking their damn money! Jeezus, John, they’ll ruin the whole damn town with that fracking bullcrap.
John: I wish I could say I was just tootin your horn, Bill. But me and Candice need the extra money for our kids. Brett’s going off to college this year, ya know.
Bill: For crying out loud, John! Didn’t you hear what happened out in Pillsberry? Nobody’ll eat their crops and their livestock are as sick as a dog.
John: What am I supposed to do Bill? Even if I didn’t take their money, they’d just pull up the gas from the Marshall’s. They just moved into that 20 acre lot down the road and they don’t have cows, pigs, corn, or nothin to worry bout spillin gas on. I ain’t got no choice!
Bill: I reckon we outta get a town meeting in order! This is ridiculous! They can’t take our town like it’s theirs! Call up the neighbors and we’ll get em to sign an agreement. My grand dad owned this land for 40 years and if he heard what’s happenin he’d of pulled up his britches, and chased those city folk out of our town.
John: Bill, you just don’t get it. They’ve got us played like a damn fiddle! If we don’t give em our gas, they’ll go to the next town up, and if they spill that gas up their it’ll still come down the river. There ain’t nothing we can do now. They’ve probably got half the town to sign by now, the way they’ve been workin us.
Bill: Of all the… ya know… They always gonna find another way to screw us over ain’t they.
John: I don’t know, Bill. We’ll make it through though. Come on, let’s go get those cows before night falls. That’ll be the next thing to go wrong.
Bill: Ya… I guess you’re right. Let’s get ‘er done.