Fracking the Debate: Frame Shifts and Boundary Work in Dutch Decision Making on Shale Gas
Environmental Policy & Planning, 2014
Posted: 27 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 26, 2014
The meaning of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas is contested worldwide: is it an energy game changer, a transition fuel, or a technology that poses severe environmental problems? In the Netherlands, a policy controversy developed in which fracturing was reframed from ‘business as usual’ to a potential environmental risk. This article theoretically and empirically describes this shift by arguing that the technology of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas is a boundary object that created a sphere of engagement for all sorts of actors. In this sphere, they negotiated a common but soft meaning of this technology. These negotiations consisted of frame contests. As part of those contests, the discursive strategies of framing and boundary work enabled opponents to create uncertainty about economic benefits and environmental impact. The shift in meaning transformed the issue from an economic one with standard governmental rules and regulations into a planning issue that needs more precaution.
Keywords: shale gas; hydraulic fracturing; boundary object; boundary work; framing
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