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Environmental Justice Implications of Energy Extraction on Rural Communities: A Case Study of Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas in Wetzel

County, West Virginia


Elizabeth Migliore M.S. Environmental Studies Ohio University

Appalachian Region
Long history of exploitative resource extraction Appalachia is a region of poverty amidst riches; a place of glaring inequalities. (Gaventa, 1980, p. 35) National sacrifice zone (Scanlan, 2011)

High-Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing

Exploitation Continues
Marcellus shale beneath much of Appalachia = trillions feet natural gas
Opportunities and challenges for communities

Source: EIA

Research Questions
What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views? Can environmental justice be used as a metric for analyzing the impacts of unconventional natural gas development to communities?

Methodology
Qualitative research Case study in Wetzel County, WV using semistructured interviews
Snowball and purposeful sampling 8 interviews, 12 interviewees

Interviews transcribed and coded, with common themes drawn out


Environmental justice framework used in analysis

Wetzel County, WV

Wetzel County, WV

What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views?

Identified impacts include:


Environmental
Economic Social

What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views?

Environmental:
Air quality is a problem. When you have all these diesel trucks, you're adding lots of fumes to the air. This happens at every frack site: silica dust, happens daily, hourly [] It's that type of air pollution that is difficult to track your exposure to. So there's air pollution, water pollution. It's not uncommon to see sedimentation issues.

What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views?

Economic:
I try to look at this, as far as job creation, I try to look at the long-term benefits. What I've witnessed over the last five years, being involved with this type of development, there's tons of short-term, as far as long term it's very minimum. Very. For the scale that this is. As far as employment.

There has been a short increase for some of the local businesses like the restaurants, hotels, gas stations, hardware stores, things like that.

What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views?

Infrastructure Changes:
We have a better road now than we had before they started. This old country use to be like John Denver's country, but now it's gas country haul roads just like the coal country haul roads. Just the noise and dust, putting up with the dust, it's awful.

What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views?

Traffic:
I could see people coming up here and saying I don't want this damn farm with all this traffic coming up it. It was nice and quiet out here, you didn't have a whole bunch of people running in and out all the time. And now, I bet there's not an hour that goes by hardly that there's somebody running in and outta here.

What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views?

Health Concerns:
It's like living in hell [] Everyone on the ridge here has started losing hair. My whole body hurts. Sore throats, congestion, and everything else, every day. They can't tell me that all this water if protected. Even if it is ten thousand feet down, it's going to get up in our wells. Then what are we gonna do? They're not going to bring water to everybody.

What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views?

Conflict within the community:


I've gotten into it with the idiot next door here. There's a lazy, worthless bunch over there on this side, and worthless bunch on that side.

What are residents perceptions of the social impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and what factors cause variation in these views?

Varying perceptions:
I have been listening to these complaints and the bad publicity in the newspapers, and I don't understand what's going on. Whether the other companies are doing a bad job, or the people themselves just don't understand. But it's been all positive for us.

Can environmental justice be used as a metric for analyzing the impacts of unconventional natural gas development to communities? Inequalities among benefits and harms:
Greater burden on poor,

isolated communities
with little power Mineral rights owners,

outside interests, rural


region and town

Can environmental justice be used as a metric for analyzing the impacts of unconventional natural gas development to communities? Powerlessness to prevent activity or redress grievances:
Not owning mineral
rights = no say Current political and institutional structures

Can environmental justice be used as a metric for analyzing the impacts of unconventional natural gas development to communities?
Power Structure: The gas company becomes powerful in the area, they buy friends and family. They've got the neighbors out here fighting between each other. That's how the gas company excels. It's the government doing it too. It's very obvious out here that if you're a mineral right holder, naturally you hold more power. So you do get treated a little better. But if you don't, then it's disrespect all the way around. 'Cause they know that the laws behind them all the way, laws and regulations. The surface owner, without the mineral rights, is powerless.

Can environmental justice be used as a metric for analyzing the impacts of unconventional natural gas development to communities? Conflict with natural gas industry: Nothing's easy with these people, they think they can walk on top of you. When they come in they told me that they would not be using no chemicals to frack with and all this and that stuff. And I was stupid enough to believe them before I knew better.

Can environmental justice be used as a metric for analyzing the impacts of unconventional natural gas development to communities? Powerlessness: No matter who you are or where you live, if the gas company's coming in your area, don't waste your energy trying to stop it. 'Cause it's coming, the money's too big. It's taken what we know as country living, and it's turned it completely upside down. They ruin your way of life.

Can environmental justice be used as a metric for analyzing the impacts of unconventional natural gas development to communities? Unjust taking: They can't get the gas out of the ground without taking something from people. So, if you own no minerals, and you live on a gravel road, you're gonna suffer from the impact [] The fact is if you can't sit on your front porch, you can't hang your laundry out anymore, and you used to be able to do that, then something's taken from you.

Conclusion
Addresses research gaps in:
Social impacts from natural gas development Residents perceptions of impacts Applying environmental justice framework to Appalachian context

Research may be applicable to other communities

experiencing unconventional natural gas


development

Sources
Gaventa, J. (1980). Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162, 1243-1248.


Scanlan, S. (2011). The theoretical roots and sociology of environmental justice in Appalachia. In M. Morrone & G. Buckley (Eds.), Mountains of Injustice: Social and Environmental Justice in Appalachia (pp. 3-31). Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). U.S. Department of Commerce. State and county QuickFacts: Wetzel County, West Virginia. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/54/54103.html U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). (2010). Summary maps: Natural gas. Retrieved from http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/maps/maps.htm. Wetzel County Action Group. (2011, March 05). Retrieved from http://www.wcag-

wv.org/.