The Future of Meadville: Some Potential Effects of the Production of Unconventional Fuels
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First ReaderFerrence, Matthew
Additional ReadersDarby, Kate
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Project AbstractNorthwest Pennsylvania is an area that has a long history with extractive industries. In 1859, the first commercial oil well was drilled in Crawford County, which led to an oil boom that caused huge economic growth in the region. The oil industry left almost as soon as it had developed however, and less than twenty years after the first oil well was drilled, the region’s economic boom had gone bust. Given this history, and given Meadville’s steady decline since heavy manufacturing largely vacated the region in the 1980s, there is a pressing necessity for some type of development to take place. This being the case in many localities within Pennsylvania and Appalachia, the recent development in the past 5 years of the region’s extensive unconventional shale resource—due to the adoption of new technologies (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) that enable producers to extract those resources—has largely been seen as a godsend. Just as soon as development of these resources started however, many individuals and communities have reported various degradations of social, economic and environmental resources as a result of the rapid and untrammeled growth of the oil and gas industry. Crawford County and the rest of northwest Pennsylvania are likely to see in coming years a heightened development of these unconventional oil and gas resources, but the potential effects it may have on the Meadville and surrounding communities remain uncertain. With respect to Meadville’s history, the importance of future planning in providing stakeholders with a perspective on the potential effects of future uncertainties, and with respect to my literary background and the efficacy of the creative approach in diffusing information about complicated events, I have taken an interdisciplinary approach in revealing many of the potential effects of oil and gas development. Through conversations and interviews I conducted with a variety of key stakeholders in Meadville and around, I was able to ascertain many of the current effects that oil and gas development in other areas, as well as to a small extent already in Crawford County, has had on local industry.