** Under the Surface by Tom Wilber

Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale is the sober tale of how extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale of the title (in Pennsylvania and New York state) was conducted as a real-time experiment, from the “land men” who convinced hard-up farmers to sell their rights to mine the land to the various mishaps of drilling and production, including exploding toilets, heavy trucks at all hours on what was a quiet landscape, and, more worrisome, the enormous impact of an extraction process that needs vertiginous amounts of water and needs some place to dispose of the used water, laden with the mysterious chemicals required for the fracking. It’s the classic tragedy of the early adopters not realizing what they signed up for, both for the individual farmers who just needed a little income supplement and did not foresee the monster drills in their backyards, and for the local and state governments whose regulations were designed for standard wells, not the newfangled kind.

Written by a journalist with a deluge of facts, figures, and dates so on the tedious side as the story develops.

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