Hetty Startup, public historian

working to enrich place-based learning

One frack mind: How a determined New Yorker won the green Nobel

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Grist

Helen Slottje was living the good life in Ithaca, N.Y, when, in 2009, she made a surprising discovery: Her rural community of small towns and dairy farms was practically on top of the Marcellus Shale, the largest known deposit of underground shale gas in the United States. Companies were already descending on Ithaca in search of oil and gas leases. To Slottje, this did not seem like a great idea. The region is also home to the headwaters of the Finger Lakes, the source of most of northeastern New York’s drinking water.

A former corporate lawyer — her last big case involved selling the air rights over the Massachusetts Turnpike — Slottje rolled up her sleeves and began to think her way around the issue. What rights did Ithaca have to preserve its water? How would it argue them in court? Together with her husband, David (also a lawyer) she…

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