This project focuses upon the politics surrounding hydraulic fracturing based oil and gas development in the United States to help understand opportunities for learning, policy change, and common ground.
Recent expansion of shale gas development has created a flurry of political debates being played out in national, state, and local newspapers, on blogs and other mass media, in regulatory agencies across all levels of government, and in Congress, state legislatures, county commissions, town counties, and courts. Illustrative of societal attention is the exponential rise in newspaper articles published in the New York Times from less than 10 articles using the term "hydraulic fracturing" between 1980 to 2007 to 90 articles in 2011 (see Figure 1).
Description of Actions
This project will involve interviews, an on-line survey, a news media analysis, website analysis, and the analysis of published documents and reports. The study sites will focus on the Marcellus, Barnett and Mancos shale gas regions. The project will be conducted from July 2012 through July 2015.
Rising natural gas process and recent advancements in horizontal drilling technology in hydraulic fracturing are resulting in the increasing viability of United States shale gas reserves as energy sources (Rogers, 2011). Hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking, involves the injection of water, sand, and propants (a mixture of various chemicals) to crack shale formations and release natural gas. With advances in fracking methods came the rapid expansion of shale gas development across many states, particularly in the Marcellus shale formation in the Northeast, the Barnett shale in Texas, and the newly explored shale formations in western states. This recent expansion of shale gas drilling has been significant; The PA Department of Environmental protection reported in 2012 the wells drilled in the PA portion of Marcellus shale increased from 195 in 2008 to 1386 in 2010 to an estimated 4000 in 2011 (Griswold, 2011). Whereas a decade ago, shale gas constituted a minuscule proportion of US natural gas supplies, currently it is estimated to comprise 30 percent and, by 2035, it could comprise half of domestic supplies (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2010).
This project focuses upon the politics of shale gas development in the United States to help understand opportunities for learning, policy change, and common ground via the following four objectives:
- Identify the actors involved in the politics of gas shale development, their interests, concerns, beliefs, and values regarding gas shale development, and how they are organized within political coalitions across different scales (e.g. local, shale formation, state, watershed, and national).
- Examine the types of actions and strategies that coalitions use to translate their interests into political outcomes, concluding issue framing in the media.
- Determine to what extend coalition actors have learned through their political involvement in the shale gas debate and what fostered this learning.
- Explore how the characteristics of coalitions and their interactions have influenced changes in shale policy or regulations and what actions might lead to common ground and policy change in the future across different venues and scales.
Use and Distribution of Results
The findings will be conveyed to the people involved in shale gas development in the three shale gas regions studded, and to people in other parts of the United States and the world. The results will be presented at conferences/meetings and published in academic publications and professional outlets, included web publications for the Buechner Institute for Governance. Webinars for survey participants via the Workshop on Policy Process Research will be used to help disseminate the results, as well as workshops in each region.
University of Colorado Denver Project Team
|University of Colorado - Denver
||University of Colorado - Denver|
|1380 Lawrence Street, Suite 500
||1380 Lawrence Street|
|Campus Box 142
||Campus Box 142|
|Denver, CO 80217
||Denver, CO 80217|
|Jonathan Pierce, Post-Doctoral Scholar
||Samuel Gallaher, Ph.D. Student|
|Jennifer Kagan, Graduate Student
||David Carter, Ph.D. Student|
|Deserai Crow, Assistant Professor
|University of Colorado - Boulder
|Liz Shanahan, Associate Professor
||Michael Jones, Assistant Professor|
|Montana State University