Review of Small Town, Big Oil: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the Richest Man in the World – and Won by David W. Moore Rating *** 1/2
This book tells the story of how a small town in New Hampshire fought against the building of an oil refinery along its coast. The same kind of story has played out in other communities across the country. There have been fights against nuclear power plants, wind farms, solar farms, and fracking wells. In Denton, Texas, the city voted to ban fracking. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, someone beholden to big oil, quickly passed a law that forbids cities from passing such restrictions.
In this case, the community banded together and formed an organization called Save Our Shores (SOS) in an effort to thwart the planned 400,000 barrels a day oil refinery. The book delves into the personalities of various people with competing goals, such as the organizers, property owners, politicians, and the greek oil magnate Aristotle Onassis.
On one side, you have the politicians and Onassis representatives, promising jobs, lower taxes, and improved infrastructure. On the other side, you have locals who didn’t want the pollution, potential environmental damage, and the problems associated with heavy industry.
The book focuses on three women at the center of the controversy: Nancy Sandberg, who headed up SOS, Dudley Dudley, a state representative, and Phyllis Bennett, the publisher of a local newspaper.
Oil refinery proponents promised a state-of-the-art facility clean as a clinic, with every effort taken to avoid damage to the environment. The local people will hardly even know the refinery exists, they promised.
This is one time where the little guy won.