With major publications like the New York Times constantly printing horrible things about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing and the overinflated potential of shale plays, it’s not surprising that people who inhabit land atop the Marcellus shale are a little confused.

Yes, the job creation is great for small towns that have long relied on coal mining for their sustenance. But is it worth the pollution of the town’s water supply?

A few towns in West Virginia are being given a crash course in shale drilling after the state failed to agree on new rules regulating Marcellus drilling, according to an article on fuelfix.com. Deciding to take matters into its own hands, the city of New Martinsville banned Marcellus shale gas drilling. City council members were surprised by the response, and a month after the initial vote, they began rescinding the ordinance.

“I didn’t expect the pushback,” Mayor Lucille Blum was quoted as saying. “I don’t think the council did, either.”

The “pushback” included industry workers crowding a city council meeting, the West Virginia Independent Oil & Gas Association threatening to “take its business elsewhere,” and a letter from Chesapeake Appalachia suggesting that council members reconsider their actions.

Chesapeake was tougher on the city of Wellsburg. The company rescinded its US $30,000 offer to supply band instruments for the town’s middle school after drilling was banned in May.

“As a publicly traded company with many stakeholders, we must direct our expenses and philanthropy to communities that will work with us, not against us,” spokeswoman Stacey Brodak said in a statement. “We do not have to choose between the environment or the economics. We are benefiting both.”

Businessman Matt Quinet agreed, at least with the latter. Business at his restaurant in New Martinsville tripled, according to fuelfix, and he’s opened a motel in a nearby city that’s booked every night. “These gas people have brought new life to this town,” he told fuelfix. “For any town that comes into this, it’s like the town hit the jackpot.”

This is an interesting peek into the grassroots economics of the shale boom. When states legislate against drilling or fracturing, the education process has to happen in the offices of the legislators. But when it’s left to the small towns to decide, it seems they’re more likely to listen to reason when the industry comes calling.