In Amwell Township, your opinion of fracking tends to correspond with how much money you’re making and with how close you live to the gas wells, chemical ponds, pipelines and compressor stations springing up in the area. Many of those who live nearby fear that a leak in the plastic liner of a chemical pond could drip into a watershed or that a truck spill could send carcinogens into a field of beef cattle. (According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 65 Marcellus wells drilled this year have been cited for faulty cement casings, which could result in leaks.) But for many other residents, including Haney’s neighbors, the risks seem small, and the benefits — clean fuel, economic development — far outweigh them.
On a Saturday morning in July 2011, Bill Hartley’s Styling Shop bustled with clients — a truck driver, a leaseholder, a landowner — all of whom profited from the gas boom. One was Ray Day, 64, a ginger-haired farmer, who, along with his brothers and sisters, owns nearly 300 acres of Amwell Township. Thanks to the money he received from allowing Range Resources to drill, build a compressor station and dig a chemical pond on his land, he has been able to reroof two barns, buy a new hay baler and construct an addition to his house for his 94-year-old mother. “I only buy something if I can pay cash,” Day said later. And he still has plenty of money left over. Was he planning a vacation, maybe to Florida? Day snorted good-naturedly. “Farmers don’t go to Florida,” he said.