Before the dust settles, as many as 100,000 natural gas wells may be drilled into the Marcellus Shale on more than 20,000 well pads in Pennsylvania.
Living on seven acres above the shale, Jimmy Guignard tells his story as an English professor grappling with the meaning of place and the power of words as he watches the rural landscape his family calls home be transformed into an industrial sacrifice zone.
From the vantage point of an avid and experienced cyclist, Guignard tracks the takeover, chalking up thousands of miles pedaling through Tioga and surrounding counties. Encountering increased truck traffic on the roads, crossing pipeline construction on the trails, and passing a growing number of flaring gas wells, the author’s rides begin to shape his academic work in ways he found surprising and sobering.
Juggling his roles as disinterested professor, anxious father and citizen, and reluctant activist, he reveals how the rhetoric of industry, politicians, and locals reshaped his understanding of teaching and his faith in the force of language.
What Readers Are Saying:
"Pedaling through some of the country's loveliest--and hardest-used--countryside, the author provides the rare combination of information and wisdom. This is a real act of witness." — Bill McKibben, Author of Deep Economy
“In Pedaling the Sacrifice Zone, Jimmy Guignard leads us on a nuanced journey through the hard truths and complex narrative frames of Marcellus shale production in rural northeastern America. “Contact! Contact!” Henry Thoreau advised us about our relationship to landscapes. Guignard pedals right up close to the solid earth, the actual world, and where he lives it now sadly smells more and more like cheap gas and high corporate profits.”—John Lane, author of Circling Home
“Navigating terrain, cresting hills, glimpsing wildlife at one turn and drilling rigs at another, Jimmy Guignard literally and figuratively cycles the reader through the fraught landscape of his family's life in the 'sacrifice zone.' This is an essential and approachable book for understanding the impact of the natural gas industry on a place as well as on a people. Emphasizing the power of rhetoric as a tool for understanding the industry, Guignard offers an honest and searching account of what it means to live consciously, energetically, and passionately in a place wracked by technological change, uncertainty, and corporate power dynamics." —Eileen E. Schell, coauthor of Rural Literacies (Studies in Writing and Rhetoric) and coeditor of Reclaiming the Rural: Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy
"Pedaling the Sacrifice Zone reads like a mystery novel, replete with fully fleshed out characters who may or may not be guilty of crimes against humanity, a compelling dramatic timeline, a hard-boiled, beer-drinking, bike-riding environmental detective, and richly drawn sense of place. So engrossing is the story Guignard tells we almost don’t notice how much we’re learning about fracking, environmental rhetoric, and the coming of age—no, the maturing—of a man who cares deeply about the physical world and what we are doing to it. A lovely mix of scholarship and personal narrative, this book should be required reading for anyone interested in nature writing and the frustrating world of fracking."—Sheryl St. Germain, author of Navigating Disaster: Sixteen Essays of Love and a Poem of Despair