Scale, shale, and the state: political ecologies and legal geographies of shale gas development in Pennsylvania



Recent work on legal geographies has arguably paid far too little attention to the environment as both an object of governance and a terrain of struggle with respect to the law. Conversely, political ecology as a field, with its focus on informal and extra-legal dynamics, has arguably engaged too little with the legal geographies that are central to environmental conflicts in many locations. This paper examines and theorizes the legal geographies that have been essential elements of the recent boom in extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Specifically, it examines the ways in which laws and the authority of the state more broadly have been changed, deployed, and invoked, particularly through the passage of Act 13, to enable the extraction of the gas in the shale and its circulation as a viable commodity. This analysis of the relevant multiscalar legal geographies illustrates the productivity of a more direct engagement between political ecology on one hand, and legal geography on the other.


Political ecology Legal geography Natural gas Hydraulic fracturing 



We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers at the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© AESS 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development Sociology, Academic Surge A-123Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyClark UniversityWorcesterUSA

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