Book ‘Fractured Sanctuary,’ about the Grassroots Response to the Fracking Industry, Now Available

GAP MILLS, W.Va. – My new book, “Fractured Sanctuary: A Chronicle of Grassroots Activists Fighting Pipelines of Destruction in Appalachia,”is now available.

This is an account of reluctant activists. Some of the people and nonprofits you will read about are or were employed by environmental nonprofits and similar organizations. Most, however, became citizen activists not by choice, but by the most basic of human instincts – survival. These heroic folks – and thousands of others – were forced to abandon their peaceful lives by the aggressive and harmful tactics of the natural gas industry.

Justin McClain, (L), listens to his father, Robert, talk about damage done to their farm by pipeline construction

These reports capture an accurate account of the shenanigans the natural gas industry has used to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline and numerous other larger and smaller projects across the nation. This is simply another snapshot in the scrapbook of the exploitation by energy companies of the people and land of Appalachia.

I was fortunate to have good sources while reporting from the fracking fields and pipeline routes. I learned that the fundamental rights of property owners were being violated by misuse of eminent domain; that the health of human beings was being knowingly compromised; the natural gas industry was, indeed, abusing and harming the region’s water supplies; there was no forethought by the companies as to the terrain they sought to transverse; and, perhaps most disturbingly, those authorities in the government with oversight of pipeline construction often and openly disregarded the very regulations they are charged with enforcing.

Interviewing April Pierson-Keating in Alum Bridge, W.Va. in 2014. April passed in 2019. Chapter 32, “The Best of West Virginia” is a tribute to her

So, reluctant citizen activists rose up organically in grassroots resistance to the natural gas industry. The fight won’t end anytime soon. The fossil fuel industry has exploited the Appalachian region for roughly 150 years. With dollar signs dancing in their eyes, they are not inclined to quit. Neither are the grassroots activists, especially in the midst of Appalachia’s Climate Emergency.

The accounts in the book reveal the stark contrast between those opposing values. The question is: Where do you stand? Reading the accounts and reports found in the 37 chapters of the book may compel you to consider – in ways you have not yet – the public health risks, ecological devastation, destruction of family homesteads generations old, and the very real and rough toll this battle has taken upon families along the pipeline routes.

Grassroots movements are exerting greater and greater influence on their own communities and public policy. In addition to informing the public about fracking and its impacts in Appalachia, this chronicle is also an opportunity to learn from one another about such effective grassroots efforts.

Join the Conversation

We are presently scheduling signings, talking circles and perhaps even a concert or two so that we can gather to discuss our thoughts and experiences about the earth that sustains us, and if you wish, purchase the book. To learn more about scheduling an event as well as additional information about the book and purchasing options, please visit our Fractured Sanctuary page.


The Appalachian Chronicle offers news, features and analysis about Central and Southern Appalachia. We report from Western North Carolina, Southeastern West Virginia and North Central West Virginia. There is no cost for the subscription. Simply enter your email address in the “Follow” box at the top right hand side of the page.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2023


  1. Good afternoon, I watched a segment of Chris Wallace’s “Whose Talking” available on HBO and Hulu – featured guest was Jane Fonda. WOW, she was very vocal and passionate about the environment. I think she goes around the country to promote citizen activism. Just thought she may fit into your plans somewhere. Sending the best to you, Theresa

    “May Light always surround you; Hope kindle and rebound you. May your Hurts turn to Healing; Your Heart embrace Feeling. May Wounds become Wisdom; Every Kindness a Prism. May Laughter infect you; Your Passion resurrect you. May Goodness inspire your Deepest Desires. Through all that you Reach For, May your arms Never Tire.” ? D. Simone ________________________________

  2. Journalism at its zenith! If you are reading this, but not a subscriber to the ‘Appalachian Chronicle’, do so immediately! In this day and age of ‘creative spin writing’, it is so utterly refreshing and inspiring to read about current events which are presented factually. I hold up Mr. Barrick’s writing as one of the last remaining lights of true journalism!

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