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The Battle for YellowstoneMorality and the Sacred Roots of Environmental Conflict$
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Justin Farrell

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164342

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164342.001.0001

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Drilling Our Soul: Moral Boundary Work in an Unlikely Old-West Fight against Fracking

Drilling Our Soul: Moral Boundary Work in an Unlikely Old-West Fight against Fracking

(p.217) 5. Drilling Our Soul: Moral Boundary Work in an Unlikely Old-West Fight against Fracking
The Battle for Yellowstone

Justin Farrell

Princeton University Press

This chapter investigates an “outlier” case of environmental conflict, where things did not follow the same social patterns observed elsewhere in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). The case study involves conflict over a plan to drill 136 natural gas wells just to the south of Yellowstone, in Sublette County, Wyoming. This plan is not unusual, given that this county includes two of the largest gas fields in the United States and that most residents of this county and state support this economically beneficial activity. But in a radical reversal, a large group of miners, outfitters, ranchers, and other old-westerners acted against their own economic and cultural traditions, starting an environmental movement to oppose drilling in this particular area. The chapter shows that the intense negative reaction to drilling in this area is caused by a violation of strong moral boundaries linked to old-west place attachment.

Keywords:   Yellowstone, Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, natural gas drilling, miners, environmental conflict, moral boundaries, old-west, place attachment, natural gas well, conflict

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