Amity and Prosperity by Eliza Griswold
Eliza Griswold’s riveting look at the effects of fracking, Amity and Prosperity (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27), is by turns a social history of mineral extraction, a close profile of a handful of citizens, myriad medical mysteries, and a legal thriller. The focus is a Pennsylvania town called Amity. Economically depressed, it saw natural gas as its salvation—much as the neighboring town, the ghostly Prosperity, once looked to coal. And though fracking did bring in money, like coal it also brought a host of problems, including illness, animal deaths, water contamination, and damaged infrastructure due to the dramatic increase in truck traffic. For Stacey Haney, a nurse and single mother of two who owned a farm near a major waste-water containment site, it was impossible to look away. Though she’d thought it was her “patriotic duty” to lease her land to a gas company, when her son became chronically ill , she spoke up, eventually filing suit against Range Resources. While a courageous pair of local lawyers devoted years to building the case—and foregoing payment—Griswold talked to a wide range of Amity citizens. She presents their views on government and corporate power, tells us their dreams and how fracking furthered or broke them, and shows how arguments about the greater good of the nation can ride roughshod over the basic rights of citizens, especially citizens who lack the means to fight back.