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The Fracturing of Place: The Regulation of Marcellus Shale Development and the Subordination of Local Experience

37 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2012  

Nancy D. Perkins

Duquesne University - School of Law

Date Written: 2012


The rapid pace of Marcellus Shale Development in Pennsylvania has brightened the economic outlook of the Commonwealth, but has seriously disrupted the environmental and social well-being of many small communities. The hydro-fracturing process that frees the natural gas embedded in the shale poses threats to water resources, air, wildlife, and aesthetics, which may collectively change unique attributes of place and the experience of local residents. In December of 2011, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly proposed legislation that would severely truncate local authority to enact ordinances that address environmental and land use concerns associated with gas drilling. The legislation was signed into on February 14, 2012. This article assesses the new restrictions through the lens of a feminist conception of sustainable development. By supplementing the traditional dimensions of sustainability with insights from feminist scholarship related to women and development, field research in community health, and legal theory, a more place- and people-specific framework for sustainable development emerges. When measured against this enriched framework, the local ordinance limitations in Pennsylvania’s legislation fall short. It is hoped that the application of a feminist-infused theory of sustainability to an existing development controversy will leave readers with a deeper understanding of the ways in which feminism can meaningfully inform sustainability issues.

Keywords: Marcellus Shale, sustainability, sustainable development, Act 13, land use, local ordinances, Pennsylvania, municipalities, fracking, natural gas, feminism, feminist theory

Suggested Citation

Perkins, Nancy D., The Fracturing of Place: The Regulation of Marcellus Shale Development and the Subordination of Local Experience (2012). Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-17; Fordham Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Nancy D. Perkins (Contact Author)

Duquesne University - School of Law ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

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