GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Perkins "The Fracturing of Place"


Nancy D. Perkins is Associate Dean and Professor of Law at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She teaches Property and Environmental Law, and her research and scholarship explores the intersection of these two areas with a special focus on sustainability, equity, and feminism.

This article examines the legislation regulating horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale, with a particular focus on Act 13, which privileges the zoning rights of the state over those of local municipalities, and which Perkins argues prioritizes the interests of drilling companies over local social and environmental concerns. Since the writing of this article, this provision has been challenged in court.

Click on the link below for recent news coverage of Act 13 of Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale drilling law.

"Pennsylvania Supreme Court declares portions of shale-drilling law unconstitutional"

As you read and reflect, consider these important questions:

  • What are the "Three E's" in Perkins' definition of sustainability?
  • How does Perkins define feminism? According to Perkins, how is a feminist approach important to pursuing sustainability? Look back to Paul Robin's reading back in the beginning of the class to situate feminist scholarship within human-environment scholarship (hint: it's not just about women).
  • What is "intersectionality" and why is it important for understanding how social inequality is produced?
  • How, according to Perkins, is Act 13 part of an unsustainable approach to development?
  • Do you agree that the local municipalities most directly impacted by natural gas extraction should be involved in developing drilling regulations?
  • How would you want to change state regulations to achieve a balance between economic development, social equity, and environmental protection?