I will be participating in the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA) Conference on Communication and the Environment next week in Uppsala, Sweden June 6 to 10, 2013, at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. I’ll be presenting preliminary research findings from at cross-national analysis of contention over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The use of hydraulic fracturing is increasingly widespread in the oil and gas industry. Given that global shale gas resources are “vast” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (U.S. EIA), hydraulic fracturing is on the cusp of an international expansion, making it a key juncture at which to study the cross-national reception of the technology. U.S. EIA estimates of world shale gas resources stand at 6,622 trillion cubic feet, increasing technically recoverable reserves by more than 40 percent to 22,600 trillion cubic feet (see here).
While the economies of extraction and pressing environmental concerns such as climate change are global, drilling projects have the potential for significant environmental and health impacts on local communities. Hydraulic fracturing has been increasingly used in the United States over the past five years, heightening contention over the environmental and health risks. Hydraulic fracturing is now on the cusp of an international expansion, in European countries and elsewhere, with the potential for shifts in global energy policy. It also raises issues of citizen participation in environmental decision-making and sustainability.
In this research, I conducted a hyperlink network analysis of two divergent civil society responses to the technology, an international advocacy campaign, Global Frackdown, and the U.S.-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD). Global Frackdown (n=180) calls for a ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing in the oil and natural gas industry:
“We stand united as a global movement in calling on governmental officials at all levels to pursue a renewable energy future and not allow fracking or any of the associated infrastructure in our communities or any communities. We are communities fighting fracking, frac sand mining, pipelines, compressor stations, LNG terminals, exports of natural gas, coal seam gas, coal bed methane and more. Fracking is not part of our vision for a clean energy future and should be banned” (see here).
The first Global Frackdown day of action was held on September 2012 and a second is planned for October 19, 2013. In contrast, the CSSD (n=12), founded publicly in March of this year focuses on collaboration with the shale industry in in the Marcellus Shale region of the Northeastern United States, in an effort to improve regulation and disclosure of chemicals used in fracturing wells (see here).
I am providing an interactive version of the map of Global Frackdown 2012 and CSSD partners below, prepared using Google Fusion Tables, to supplement my conference presentation. The Global Frackdown organizations are denoted with green dots and the CSSD ones with red dots. To see the name and location of each organization, zoom in on the map and click on each marker.
For more information about my research, please feel free to contact me. To learn more about the COCE 2013 conference, “Participation Revisited: openings and closures for deliberations on the commons,” visit here or follow the Twitter hashtag #COCE2013. The conference program is available here.