- State News
- Gas Industry
The End of Country
By Betsy Rider, Otto's Books
July 11, 2011
The End of Country, the new book (out this week) by Seamus McGraw, is the true story of the Marcellus Shale development in and around Dimock, PA. McGraw grew up on a rocky hillside farm where his mother still lives. When she was approached by gas company front men to lease the drilling rights to the gas company, she asked her son and daughter to look into it and decide for her.
Seamus, who is a writer for magazines and newspapers, took on the challenge and researched the development of natural gas-geologically, back millions of years, and its historical uses, back two thousand years (in China where they burned it to boil sea water for its salt). He was able to add to his personal knowledge of the friends and neighbors of his home town area, the information acquired by interviewing gas company executives, drillers and drivers, Penn State professors, DEP personnel, involved lawyers, investing companies and more.
The book is published by Random House and an early contract gave him the freedom to gather all the pertinent information. It portrays people with mixed emotions about the drilling; one woman was driven to sign the lease by her conviction that we needed to develop an energy source that wouldn't leave as great a carbon footprint as coal and oil, at least until wind and solar power could become more feasible. His insight into the personalities of the people involved and how the drilling (and the cash) changed them keeps the book lively and very readable.
The verdict arrived at by the residents of Dimock: They don't believe they can stop the drilling and while they regret the immediate effect on the environment, they live in an area that has endured the long term effects of coal mining. They have found their best response is banding together to be the industry's watchdog. They report to the DEP every diesel spill, every intrusion of methane into the wells and ponds and anything they find unnecessarily dangerous to life of all kinds. And the DEP responds ASAP.
In the meantime, they watch their trees go down, their earth torn up, the deafening noise and brilliant lights going 24/7 and the community becoming more and more secretive about how much each one settled for. (There is a lot of savvy in the book about how to cut the very best deal.) I think the book is a "must-read" for everyone in the Marcellus Shale region.
Contact Otto’s Books to order your copy today by phone, by internet, or in person at Otto's, the booklover's paradise in the heart of downtown Williamsport, 107 W 4th Street.