Environmental Studies student presents at National Environmental Justice Conference

Mollie Fitzgerald
March 14, 2013

On April 3rd, Elizabeth Migliore will present her thesis research, “Environmental Justice Implication of Energy Extraction on Rural Communities: A Case Study of Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas in Wetzel County, West Virgina,” at the National Environmental Justice Conference in Washington DC.

Elizabeth is in the Environmental Studies program at the Voinovich School and holds a graduate assistantship position with the Voinovich School and the Raccoon Creek Partnership.

Elizabeth’s interests in hydraulic fracturing began back in her hometown of Buffalo, NY.  She interned with the Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper and worked on a policy report of potential water issues that happen as a result of hydraulic fracturing. She explains, “While I did not originally plan to do my thesis on hydraulic fracturing when I started grad school, the issue followed me as natural gas development surrounded Athens. I found there was a major research gap in the day to day impacts rural residents deal with during natural gas development, and developed my case study around this need.”

The case study included eight in-depth interviews with a total of twelve interviewees. Elizabeth included residents with a variety of viewpoints, such as small business owners, activists and those with and without natural gas leases, to better understand perceptions on the impacts of natural gas development in Wetzel County. She observed a range of injustices such as pollution and conflict between neighbors that resulted in an overall decreased quality of life as the rural community rapidly industrialized.

The National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program is a platform for leaders of various sectors to exchange new approaches to environmental justice. Elizabeth’s research and findings on residents’ perceptions on the impacts of natural gas development within a community provides thought-provoking dialogue over a prominent and controversial topic that is sweeping through the Appalachian Ohio region.