Resilient but not sustainable? Public perceptions of shale gas development via hydraulic fracturing

Darrick Evensen, Richard Stedman, Benjamin Brown-Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Complex energy development, such as associated with extraction and processing of shale gas, may affect the future sustainability and resilience of the small, often rural communities where development occurs. A difficulty for understanding the connection between sustainability, resilience, and shale gas development (hereafter ?SGD?) is that definitions of sustainability and resilience are often muddled and unclear. Nevertheless, the ways in which development could affect sustainability and resilience have been discussed and contested in academic literature. Little is known, however, about the general public?s thoughts on how SGD relates to sustainability and resilience. Despite the overlap and conflation of these two concepts, research indicates some differences between characterizations of the two. While acknowledging difficulties in defining the terms, we included questions on a few broad attributes of the two concepts in a survey (n=1202) of a random sample of residents in the Marcellus Shale region of NY and PA, to explore the relationship between support for / opposition to SGD and perceived importance of community sustainability and resilience. Our survey revealed that beliefs about the importance of sustainability, as measured by three items that clearly pool together as a single factor, are associated with opposition to SGD; beliefs about the importance of resilience, measured by four clearly-connected items, are associated with support for SGD. This finding is particularly intriguing and relevant for communication and policy about sustainability and resilience in connection with energy development, because of the common conflation of the two terms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Society
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • hydraulic fracturing
  • perceptions
  • resilience
  • shale gas
  • sustainability

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