Martha Rial, "Well flaring in Jefferson Township, Greene County. Flaring is done to test well performance and can last anywhere from one to several days", archival pigment print, 19x26”.

Martha Rial, “Well flaring in Jefferson Township, Greene County. Flaring is done to test well performance and can last anywhere from one to several days”, archival pigment print, 19×26”.

Martha Rial

Greene County long held the distinction of being Pennsylvania’s poorest county until the influx of natural gas drilling lifted it from the bottom. Tucked into the far southwest corner of the state, the region is now called the “sweet spot” by energy companies for its abundance of shale. Residents cherish their simple way of life and the rugged beauty of the surrounding hills. This is not the first time the area has been plundered for it natural resources. Before the discovery of shale gas, companies stripped timber and coal from their lands.

We don’t know the full impact natural gas development and pipeline construction will have on rural Pennsylvania, but lives and the land are clearly being altered. We are all stakeholders and deserve to be informed and have a voice in the ongoing energy debate.

My goal was to document ordinary people and places caught up in our nation’s thirst for cheap fuel and struggle for energy independence. What I discovered what residents want most is for their land to be respected and their way of life protected.

Martha Rial is a Pittsburgh-based photographer who specializes in documentary, editorial, travel and portrait photography. Rial is winner of the Scripps Howard Foundation Award for Photojournalism, National Headliner Award, Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography, and named “Pennsylvania News Photographer of the Year”. Rial frequently lectures and exhibits her work nationally.

martharial.com