WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa.—On a balmy evening in September of 2019, eight women gathered around a conference table in a small office about 25 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Sunlight streamed through large windows, casting a warm glow over a side table set with coffee, biodegradable cutlery, and three kinds of pie.
“Eat pie, ladies,” commanded a tall, middle-aged woman with silver-streaked hair.
As a mother of four and the outreach coordinator for the nonprofit organization hosting this event, Ann LeCuyer was comfortable telling people what to do. She’d spent the last four years helping the group, Protect PT* (short for Protect Penn-Trafford), work to keep fracking out of the small municipalities of Penn Township, Trafford, and surrounding neighborhoods.
“This is a mature industry in long-term decline,” Kathy Hipple, a financial analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), told EHN, adding that these market conditions are also causing a slowdown in the construction of pipelines.
“In addition to public pressure, the utilities that build these pipelines are seeing that they’re not operating at capacity so there’s no economic need to justify the build,” she explained. “Sometimes industry says ‘we must, we must, we must,’ but when they actually have an updated needs-analysis done, they realize demand has flattened due to efficiencies, or supply by renewables, or both.”