Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree Completion

Fall 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Resource Management

Committee Chair

Dr. Elvin Delgado

Second Committee Member

Dr. Lene Pedersen

Third Committee Member

Dr. Pamela Mcmullin-Messier

Abstract

The primary objective of this research is to critically analyze changes in perceptions associated with hydraulic fracturing within Dimock, Pennsylvania. Residents of Dimock initially welcomed fracking in 2006 due to positive corporate rhetoric promoting economic benefits such as mineral rights acquisition, land-leasing, and local business development. However, economic benefits diminished as Dimock advanced through a boom period resulting in a current economic and ecological bust. Two months of data collection occurred in the summer of 2016 using semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and document analysis. Political economy of nature and political ecology theoretical frameworks were used to analyze and conceptualize the collected data.

This research explores the socio-cultural changes in Dimock, by understanding the residents’ perception change toward fracking. The central argument presented is fracking companies produced early positive perceptions of fracking externalities, but later encouraged discord between residents in order to retain local support after the initial positive perceptions were not met. Initial perceptions revolved around high economic return with minimal change to environmental quality or rural aesthetics. Also, this discord is more widespread than environmental issues, as it is experienced by all community members. Residents supporting fracking find themselves at odds with residents claiming water contamination issues, as negative associations of the process triggers environmental activism in the area. Environmentalism is understood locally to increase regulation, which reduces the expected economic benefits resulting from fracking activities in the area. However, as I will show, production decreases only as a reaction to a complex global and national supply and demand chain.

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