CENTERVILLE, Pennsylvania — Bill Nichols does not work in oil and gas. But almost all the customers at his feed and garden supplies store do.
“The companies buy a lot of grass seed, topsoil, and hand tools to work with,” he said as he tucked into his breakfast of eggs, bacon, a biscuit, and gravy at the Chuck Wagon diner. “About every business here owes their existence to oil and gas.”
The trucks parked outside the Chuck Wagon as the sun rises above the Pennsylvania hills are a sign that this is energy country. It was coal country until the mines closed. Now, it is fracking country, dotted with wells that use the new technology to force gas out of shale deposits and up to the surface.
Washington County, just outside Pittsburgh, was once blue-collar, union Democrat country. But in 2016, about 60% of voters went for Donald Trump, not far off the proportion that voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
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