Category Archives: Fracking

Updates From The Frack Zone

Here are some updates from my reporting on the gas industry over at Beacon Reader.

Last week, I was the very first! anyone to report on Judge Marc Lovecchio overturning a local zoning board’s decision to allow a fracking well owned by Inflection Energy. Here’s my story on the decision.

Later in the week, I followed up by asking neighbors about what they thought of the decision. Here’s that story.

Last Saturday, I attended the PA Energy Games in Hughesville, a strange little event put on by gas industry boosters. Here’s what I saw there.

Finally, I got around to writing about seeing a Halliburton pickup truck at a music festival back in July. Here’s the rather ethereal piece that came out after much marination.

If you find my work worthwhile (and I do!), do consider subscribing over at my project page on Beacon or kick me a few bucks on the “help this poor writer some more” button at the end of every story. Or check out the “wish list” mostly full of books I’ve embedded on the sidebar to the left – I needs to read to write.

Or you can keep reading for free via social media links (@jdbrokaw) – I understand, I’m a cheapskate, too.

More fracking reporting than you can handle

This is the in-case-you’re-curious post on why I’m doing this whole reporting on the Shale Gas Industry thing.

Visit beautiful Hughesville, Pa. and around 2 a.m., while wandering back from the Tavern, you might be lucky enough to see our version of a convoy. Five or six big Red Halliburton trucks you can hear coming from a mile away, piping shooting up into the sky that resembles an Escher drawing, one white pickup truck leading, another taking up the rear.

Hughesville gets this sort of traffic because it’s in the middle of the Marcellus Shale, where some say America will be getting most of its energy, in the form of natural gas, for the next 100 years. This industry is kind of a big deal.

"Digging & Rigging" truck, Pennsdale, Pa. April 13, 2014
“Digging & Rigging” truck, Pennsdale, Pa. April 13, 2014

While I was writing for the daily newspaper in Williamsport, for most of 2013, it was rare that we wrote a story about the Gas Industry unless it originated in a press release from some industry-related group; sometimes reports from environmentally-minded think tanks made their way into the paper’s pages.

At least five books have appeared in the last three years on the Marcellus boom. There are still stories galore not getting told about the gas industry, its glories and its discontents. Stories about people working in the industry; stories about those diligently opposed to the industry; stories about how the infusion of gas money is affecting those places from which the gas is pumped.

I want to tell stories from the human level, stories of “human interest.” Human interest stories get a bad rap, because busy journalists tend to lean on sentimental cliches when they write about, say, a local teen’s struggle with cancer, rather than the “hard news” of a shooting or house fire.

What “human interest” should mean is simply what has happened to people as the result of some phenom. The media tends to get all hot and bothered about how an event affects the Economy, the Government, the Election – all of these abstractions that runs the news cycle. How happenings affect people becomes a secondary concern.

I’m not going to get rich doing this, but it’s what I’m good at. For now, I’m using Beacon Reader to get my stories out there and get a little cash flow coming in to keep my old van running.

If these stories sound like something you’d like to read, please subscribe here.