Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 7, 2014

Chevron pizza 'scandal' isn't one in small town

(Continued)

Chevron representatives visited about 100 people five days after the fire, seeking concerns or questions and leaving a gift certificate for a large pizza and 2-liter drink at Bobtown Pizza, which had just opened.

Elli, who was born in Bobtown, said he feels for the worker who died and his family, but that the well fire didn't threaten other residents. And while there are differing opinions about the drilling boom in the community, he doesn't see a problem with it.

"We need gas. Better than getting it from other countries," he said. His current priority is not getting an apology from Chevron, he said, but getting ready for the spring wild turkey season.

He noted that many locals have made money off the drilling boom, both from royalties — which can reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for landowners — and jobs.

Overall, Pennsylvanians support the drilling boom, said G. Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. A January poll by the school found that 64 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly favor the gas drilling industry, compared with 27 percent who somewhat or strongly oppose it. In some conservative rural areas with active drilling, the support is even higher.

"I think it's pretty fascinating that folks in the community" aren't openly upset with Chevron, Madonna said, agreeing that such kerfuffles are surrogates in the political fight over American energy production.

Novak had some advice for all the people who think they know how Bobtown residents feel: "Come to this small rural area and see for themselves."

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