American Sociological Association

Whose Backyard and Whats at Issue? Spatial and Ideological Dynamics of Local Opposition to Fracking in New York State, 2010 to 2013

What drives local decisions to prohibit industrial land uses? This study examines the passage of municipal ordinances prohibiting gas development using hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in New York State. I argue that local action against fracking depended on multiple conceptions of the shale gas industry. Matching these alternative conceptions with prevailing spatial models of public response to industrial land uses—"not in my backyard," "not in anyone’s backyard," and "please in my backyard"—improves our understanding of where local contention might emerge and how it contributes to policy change. Results from event history and logistic regression analyses show, first, that communities lying above favorable areas of the shale did not pass anti-fracking laws because opposition to fracking was counteracted by significant local support for development. Fracking bans passed primarily in a geographic sweet spot on the periphery of targeted regions, where little or no compelling economic interest in development existed. Second, as fracking became the subject of a highly politicized national debate, local opposition increasingly reflected mobilization by political liberals. This trend is reflected in the increasing rate of ordinance adoption among Democratic-leaning communities outside the geographic sweet spot.

Authors

Dokshin, F. A.

Volume

81

Issue

5

Starting Page

921

Ending Page

948