Photos by James Pitarresi

EPA officials begin a federal investigation of the impact of fracking at 60 homes in Dimock, Pa. The probe is the latest chapter of a national debate concerning shale gas as a primary energy source.

Victoria Switzer, retired school teacher, designer, and poet, became an "accidental activist" in her fight to hold Cabot Oil & Gas accountable for pollution affecting the contemporary dream home she designed and built with her husband, Jimmy, in Dimock, Pa.

Ron and Jeannie Carter, second generation owners of a homestead on Carter Road, expected royalties from shale gas development to fund their retirement after they leased their land for $25 an acre.
Vera Scroggins, a transplanted Long Island resident, offers roadside tours of drilling operations and videotapes events, spills and meetings. These activities drew scant press coverage in the remote reaches of Susquehanna County before Dimock became iconic of the national fracking controversy

The Carter home sits near a well pad on neighboring property opreated by Cabot Oil & Gas. Faulty drilling operations caused methane to flow into the aquifer on Carter Road, according to a state DEP report. The federal EPA is investigating the source of other contaminatns found in the water at the Carter's and other homes, and hydraulic fracturing is a primary suspect.

Lockhart's Lunch Counter and gas mart, a clearinghouse of information for residents when landmen first came to Dimock in 2008, later became a popular spot for industry workers and supporters. Don Lockhart has held court from behind the counter  for 30 years. His wife, Shirley, is the town notary.

DEP officials take water samples in a creek near a drilling site in Franklin Forkes, Pa. The site, below, is operated by WPX Energy.  It has 9 violations ranging from lack of erosion control to “failure to properly store, transport, process or dispose of a residual waste.” One violation is related to a spill of an undisclosed volume of diesel fuel, and a faulty liner that allowed the pollution to seep into the ground.

Dewey and Dawn Decker, fourth generation farmers in the Town of Sanford, N.Y., discuss the shale gas rush that changed their lives. The Deckers became millionares after they signed over mineral rights to their 1,200 acre farm to XTO (now Exxon Mobile). They are frustarted that drilling has been delayed by environmental concerns that has lead to a moratorium on high volume fracking in New York state. 

Ashur Terwilliger, center, and Lindsay Wickham, right, discuss landmen and prospecting activity at a farm bureau meeting in New York's Southern Tier. Ashur was among the first to begin educating landowners of their rights when he saw plans to construct the Millennium Pipeline through his farm bureau district in Chemung County as the price of natural gas rose in the late 1990s.