Place Studies

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Tag: fracking

Same River

In the spring of 2013, the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble presented “Same River,” a multimedia exploration of Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing. Bucknell students conducted interviews with Pennsylvania residents whose lives have been directly impacted by fracking. The performance was composed of numerous first-person accounts of the effects of natural gas production. The volume of material presented offered a complex picture of “fracking,” a trend we’ve seen on the rise in Pennsylvania for about a decade. “Same River” seeks to draw connections, to give voice to multiple viewpoints and to acknowledge that we are all downstream, that the earth’s water supply is all the same river.  In order to process the performance, individuals were encouraged to share their thoughts at a town-hall style discussion afterwards.

In addition to the theatrical piece, other art forms were created and displayed. Local artist Nancy Cleaver and Bucknell scenographer Elaine Williams lead art-making sessions, with participants creating artwork on the topic, “Clean Water: Who Needs It?”

The “Same River” project was sponsored by the Place Studies Initiative of the Bucknell Environmental Center, as well as the Residential Colleges and the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The “Same River” project and its related activities are sponsored by the Place Studies Initiative of the Bucknell University Environmental Center, the Residential Colleges, and the Department of Theatre and Dance.

To Frack or Not To Frack

During the summer of 2013, I conducted research alongside Associate Professor of Management, Jamie Hendry with support of the Place Studies Initiative. Jamie and I decided to explore a hot topic: fracking. Specifically, we were curious about how landowners weighed the pros and cons of leasing mineral rights. As a student who studies Management and Gender Studies, I was interested in the gender component of how decisions are made.

In order to gain a better understanding of the power dynamics within relationships, I drew on a set of research on family relations. I also consulted a number of sources to learn about the process and history of hydraulic fracturing.

Jamie and I conducted a number of interviews of landowners in Lycoming, Sullivan, Bradford counties; most of the participants were approaching or enjoying retirement, and professionals who are directly or indirectly connected to the gas industry. None of the landowners had a well placed on their property, and most had leased dozens of acres.

There were a number of common themes we uncovered about people’s perception of fracking (when it wasn’t on their land):

  • Overall positive perceptions of natural gas companies
  • People see the tangible economic benefits around them
  • Creation of a new meaning of what land is worth
  • People who did not lease were depicted as having strong ideologies that prevented them from doing so
  • People felt that their decision not to lease wouldn’t matter if everyone around them signed a lease
  • Many expressed an interest in alternative energy sources, once the technology is developed affordably
  • Landowners who leased feel pride in being an energy provider to their community and country
  • Traffic was noted to be the most noticable change in regions with heavy fracking

Gender alone did not predict which spouse had more weight in the decision making process. In most relationships, the spouse with more decision making power was the one who was considered to be more of an “expert” on the subject, usually due  to their occupation.

Another factor that influenced how couples made decisions was their perception of the purpose of land. Those who believed that land was best in a natural, pristine state had reservations about signing a lease, while those who saw land as an asset that landowners should get the greatest number of benefits from.

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