Fracking Across the USA: Disparate Political Responses to Uncoventional Energy Development
Posted: 22 Feb 2011
Technological advances, economic incentives, and ever-increasing demand are responsible for wide-spread unconventional natural gas development occurring throughout the U.S. Unconventional natural gas is recovered via a process known as hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking.’ Fracking is the technique employed by energy developers where chemically treated water and sand is injected at high pressure into tight sandstone, shale, and coalbed methane deposits to fracture the formation allowing natural gas to flow from the well. Presently, fracking allows new development of unconventional natural gas deposits ranging from the states of the Rocky Mountain West to the states of Appalachian Northeast. Unlike their Western counterparts, however, Northeastern states are increasingly risk-averse to fracking techniques and harms associated with natural gas development. This stands in sharp contrast with the West which has long been the lesser populated, energy resource breadbasket for the nation. And although residents of Western states where unconventional natural gas development is greatest have experienced significant harm from expansive development, the fracking process remains largely unregulated. Using a comparative case study design, our analysis seeks to explain disparate political responses between Western and Northeastern states as each attempt to address the cultural, economic, environmental, and political conflicts surrounding unconventional natural gas development.
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