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Fervent foes devote their lives to fracking fight

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Vera ScrogginsBig energy companies have been trying for five years to tap the riches of the Marcellus Shale in southern New York, promising thousands of new jobs, economic salvation for a depressed region, and a cheap, abundant, clean-burning source of fuel close to power-hungry cities. But for all its political clout and financial prowess, the industry hasn't been able to get its foot in the door.

One reason: Folks like Sue Rapp and Vera Scroggins are standing in the way.

Rapp, a family counselor in the Broome County town of Vestal, in the prime shale gas region near the Pennsylvania border, is intense and unrelenting in pressing her petitions. Scroggins — a retiree and grandmother who lives across the border in hilly northwestern Pennsylvania, where intensive gas development has been going on for five years — is gleefully confrontational. She happily posts videos of her skirmishes.

The anti-fracking movement has inspired a legion of people like Rapp and Scroggins— idiosyncratic true believers, many of them middle-aged women, who have made it the central mission of their lives to stop gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus region that underlies southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

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