US presidential candidates' views on unconventional gas and oil: Who has it right?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unconventional oil and gas extraction (from shale, coal, or tight sands) via hydraulic fracturing (often just ‘fracking’) has the potential to transform the US physical and political landscape. This issue played a role in the 2008 and 2012 US presidential contests and recently emerged as a point of demarcation between the final four democrat and republican contenders for the White House. On the democrat side, broadly, Sanders advocates for a ban on unconventional hydrocarbon development, whilst Clinton advocates for strict regulation but sees opportunities for natural gas in the US’s energy future. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz favour development. I evaluate the extent to which the two presidential nominees and the two runner-ups’ views are justified based on the most recent natural, physical, and social science on this issue. In doing so, I discuss the characterisation of unconventional gas as a ‘bridge fuel’ and unpack what conditions would be necessary for this metaphor of ‘bridging’ to be appropriate. This short communication will hopefully instigate further the debate amongst scholars of energy politics, energy policy, and energy development on the role unconventional oil and gas plays in the US’s energy future and the US’s approach to climate change mitigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-130
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • shale gas
  • natural gas
  • hydraulic fracturing
  • bridge fuel


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