Fracking for Funding in Appalachian Ohio: Power and Powerlessness

This presentation will focus on a study I conducted in Appalachian Ohio where the shale gas rush is restructuring both the regional economy and landscape. I narrowed my focus to seven counties—Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Guernsey, Harrison, Monroe and Noble—that are experiencing an unprecedented amount of unconventional natural gas exploration and extraction (see e.g. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, 2014; Ohio Oil and Gas Association, 2015). This qualitative interview study sought to assess how rural and small town superintendents and treasurers navigate the pressures and responsibilities of entering into legally binding agreements with natural gas companies. The signing bonuses and royalty payments that districts are collecting from these leases are projected to alleviate much of the financial burdens the rural schools in this study have carried for years (see e.g. Burleson & Cooke, 2013; Krassen & Warnock, 2011). Throughout the study I explored the extent to which these financial possibilities are being realized by rural school districts, while calling into question the limitations of relying on agreements based on natural resource exploitation as a means of financial stability. During my presentation, I will discuss the results of my study, the extent to which financial possibilities are being realized by rural school districts, and call into question the limitations of relying on agreements based on natural resource exploitation as a means of financial stability.

Please note: I was scheduled to make a similar presentation at the 2017 ASA conference, but had to withdraw at the last minute because I was sick and unable to travel.