A series of programs about the Marcellus Shale gas drilling is taking place on the Bloomsburg University campus this week. Kevin Clark, on assignment to the College of Liberal Arts, provided this report on a recent program:
Bloomsburg University’s ten-day forum on the Impacts of Drilling for Natural Gas in the Marcellus Shale Region continued on Thursday, March 22, as Matthew Filteau, a specialist in agriculture economics and rural sociology at the Pennsylvania State University, provided details on his research of one drilling company’s employees in a talk entitled “Who Are Those Guys: A Qualitative Analysis of Transient Gas Workers in the Marcellus Shale Region."
Filteau argued against the stereotypes of “bad guy roughneck and criminal deviant” which are commonly associated with these predominantly male workers. While allowing that these transients are not “choirboys,” Filteau detailed his time spent among a drilling crew and its management team. Often when boomtown economics fuel rapid development in the energy field, locals complain that outside workers are “ruining roads, fishing streams, and carousing with women." However, Filteau says, while some of that “renegade” culture remains, the company he studied emphasizes safety and collective goals over recklessness and disrespect.
Filteau explained the changing face of masculinity within the oil and natural gas industry and the unique problems caused by the industry’s demands for long hours, time away from family, and life on the road. Filteau said, “these days, oil industry riggers see their co-workers as brothers” who share similar struggles to be breadwinners far from home. While the industry does provide road repair for host communities, Filteau admitted that these same gas companies rely on meager county resources to provide social and mental health care for transient workers.
Bloomsburg University’s Green Campus Initiative (GCI), the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS), the College of Science and Technology (COST), the College of Liberal Arts (COLA), and the Institute for Human Rights and Social Justice are sponsoring the forum which continues on March 28. For more information visit the Bloomsburg University Green Campus Initiative’s web page for the event.