Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is a freelance reporter in Brooklyn.

Recent Articles

Drill, Maybe Drill?

Upstate New York is in a battle over natural-gas drilling.

Bill Hall of Windsor, New York, holds a sign supporting natural-gas drilling in his state. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Bruce Murray lives on an undulating 150-acre property forested with hardwoods and pines near Ithaca, New York. At 57, Murray, who runs a house-painting business, is bald with a blond-gray beard. He has a hunter's relationship with the land and tries to "do what's right, conservation-wise." Over the years, he says, he has ignored offers to install cell-phone towers on his property and to sell the lumber. In 2006, somebody called to offer him $35 per acre for the rights to drill for natural gas on his spread. Murray said no, but the solicitations continued. A few months later, someone from Mason Dixon Energy arrived at his door. The man's business card read "landman." Murray describes him as "a nice guy, straightforward," college-age, like Murray's children. "I did a lot of research, and he didn't seem to be giving me any false facts," Murray says. The landman told Murray that his neighbors "were pretty much signed up." For drilling purposes in New York, land is divided into units, and...