To frack or not to frack: perceptions of the risks and opportunities of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the United States

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Although proponents praise natural gas as a clean and abundant energy source, the varying impacts and uncertainties surrounding the process of extracting natural gas from unconventional sources, known as horizontal high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) or “fracking,” have raised important concerns. This project explores public perceptions of the risks and beneficial opportunities associated with HVHF as recognized by the residents of two counties in Michigan, USA, one that currently produces natural gas by HVHF and one that does not. Through an analysis of media content related to HVHF in each case study site and interviews with stakeholders in both counties, this comparative study contributes to understanding the similarities in differences in perceptions of risks and opportunities in communities differently impacted by unconventional natural gas development, offering theoretical insight into the shared concerns and divergent perspectives among publics that have different experiences with HVHF, insight that provides new understandings of factors shaping community perceptions and means of improving environmental policy and water governance.

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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Publisher's version of record:

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Energy Research & Social Science