Communities experiencing rapid growth due to energy development (‘boomtowns’) have reported positive and negative impacts on community and individual well-being. The perceptions of impacts vary according to stage of energy development as well as experience with extractive industries. Development of the Marcellus Shale provides an opportunity to examine these impacts over time and across geographic and historical contexts. This paper describes case study research in Pennsylvania and New York to document preliminary impacts of development occurring there. Cases vary by level of development and previous extractive history. The study finds that, in areas with low population density, higher levels of development lead to a broader awareness of natural gas impacts, both positive and negative. Participants draw from the regional history of extraction to express environmental concern despite direct, local experience. Our findings suggest the need to track these perceptions during development, and as individuals and communities react and adapt to the impacts.

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