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“If you get a gathering of people together, there’s tension and raised voices,” said Ryan, who favors a more cautious approach that he believes would ensure strong enough regulations to protect public health and the environment.

In rural Pennsylvania, where nearly 3,000 gas wells have been drilled in the Marcellus Shale since 2005 and tens of thousands more are planned, the tension is leaving deep fissures in once tight-knit communities.

Schweighofer, a 54-year-old mother of five, founded the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, more than 1,300 landowners who negotiated a master lease with New York City-based Hess Corp. to drill for natural gas in Pennsylvania’s scenic northeastern tip.

She got several death threats from anti-drilling residents or activists _ one woman declared she was “gonna shoot you with my thirty-aught-six” and a man advocated in an online post that “one well-placed bullet” be put in Schweighofer’s head. Schweighofer began sleeping with a gun at her bedside.

“We’re farmers,” she said. “I’m not used to standing out and having folks holler at me, and saying evil things. I’m just not used to that.”

One member of her group, 70-year-old Mike Uretsky, says some neighbors don’t talk to him since he signed the lease. Yet, the retired New York University professor says he understands where the other side is coming from.

“Everybody’s interested in safety, aesthetics, community, quality of life,” he said. “The interpretations of those things, and where the boundaries are, differ from one person to another. The frustrating thing is people can’t sit down and talk and say, ‘Hey, how do we work together?’”

The northeastern Pennsylvania village of Dimock, population 1,400, is another prime example of the split over drilling.

State regulators blame Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. for contaminating residential water wells with methane gas. Some Dimock residents were able to light their tap water on fire _ just as Colorado homeowners did in a dramatic scene in the Academy Award-nominated HBO documentary “Gasland,” about the effects of fracking.

Some homeowners with fouled water have become high-profile anti-drilling activists, suing Cabot and taking their case to media outlets worldwide.

Two years of negative publicity brought them a backlash.

When Pennsylvania regulators ordered Cabot to spend $12 million to provide municipal water to the 19 affected homes, pro-drilling residents and businesses banded together as “Enough Already” and circulated a petition that 1,600 water line opponents signed. State regulators relented and settled with Cabot for $4.1 million, enough to pay the homeowners twice the value of their ruined homes.

The homeowners feel sandbagged by the community.

“You want to feel like a really lonely, lonely person?” asked Scott Ely, one whose water well was ruined. “Move to Carter Road,” the gravel lane in the rural, forested area where most of the contamination was found. He said people he’s known his whole life have turned against him.

“They think we are money-hungry … we’re chasing the almighty buck,” he said of the settlement money. He and the other homeowners had not asked for money and were content with the earlier plans to have clean water piped to them after nearly two years of bathing, washing, cooking and cleaning with trucked-in supplies. “We didn’t want this.”

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