Shale development, which uses the controversial energy extraction technique of hydraulic fracturing, is on the rise in America, with industries recently investigating the New Albany shale play in southern Illinois and western Kentucky. We ask: what do community leaders in this region think about shale development generally, and how do they come to their decisions? To answer these questions, we interviewed eighteen community leaders, twelve of whom were proponents of shale development. We show proponents speak on shale development as a positive by claiming 1) any jobs are beneficial for the community, 2) shale development is not different from other forms of extractive industry, and 3) information that criticizes shale development or hydraulic fracturing is untrustworthy. Proponents come to these ideas by conceiving of their leadership roles strictly as economic leaders, and by pointing to their personal history in their communities to best know what development their communities need.

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