Two years after New York banned the controversial method of extracting natural gas, faultlines run through families, counties and the national political debate
For seven years, fracking roiled New York. Back in the summer of 2007, when the gas industry started knocking on doors in Delaware County, a faultline ran right through the home of Mark Dunau and Lisa Wujnovich.
In 2014, the state announced a ban, but that faultline still runs through local and national politics, and even through the Democratic presidential primary. Activists fear Hillary Clintons pragmatic approach is too soft on fracking, and support her rival Bernie Sanders call for a national ban. Clinton supporters, meanwhile, have begun to worry that opposition to fracking would weaken her in a general election.
For some, the issue has always been personal. At his organic vegetable farm in Hancock, New York, Dunau recalled his enthusiasm about leasing parts of his 50-acre lot to be fracked. In 2007, nobody knew much about fracking the process of injecting fluid into shale rocks to fracture them and release natural gas but a friend who was making money in the industry told him it was fine.
Why am I giving up free money? he figured.
His wifes response, however, was swift: Over my dead body.
They ended up in the office of a mediator in nearby Oneonta, where Wujnovich explained that the industry violated her core values.
I know Lisa, Dunau says, so I was like, This will never work.
On the drive home, they hit two deer. They read it as a message from the land: they wouldnt sign a lease.
Dunau dropped the issue to protect his marriage his wife, a poet, has since penned verse comparing fracking to the rape of a daughter. (Are you Marcellus Shales mother? Ive got a deal you cant refuse )
But he also did some research. By early 2008, when Dunau learned gas companies had refused to disclose chemicals that went into fracking fluid, he was convinced the practice wasnt safe. His wife welcomed him to the club.
For me, and for many women I knew, it was like: Thou shalt not kill, she says. It never had to be so cerebral with me. But with him, we had to go cerebral.