What's the 'fracking' problem? One word can't say it all

Darrick Evensen, Jeffrey Jacquet, Christopher Clarke, Richard Stedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Fracking” has received substantial attention in scientific, mass media, and public discourse. This word originally referred to the process of hydraulic fracturing, but recently it has taken on a wider range of meanings in many fora. It now denotes one or more of several processes and impacts related to gas/oil exploration, extraction, and development; confusion can arise when it is unclear which processes or impacts are included in a particular use of this term. “Fracking” also carries negative and lewd connotations that shape public representations of the processes and impacts associated with it. By causing confusion and evoking bias, the word “fracking” can constrain meaningful policy conversation about the underlying issues and concerns. We offer recommendations for how to discuss this controversial topic while at best avoiding, or at least supplementing, the term “fracking”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-136
JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2014


  • hydraulic fracturing
  • shale gas
  • communication
  • energy policy


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