Deliberating the perceived risks, benefits, and societal implications of shale gas and oil extraction by hydraulic fracturing in the US and UK.

TitleDeliberating the perceived risks, benefits, and societal implications of shale gas and oil extraction by hydraulic fracturing in the US and UK.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsThomas, M, Partridge, T, Harthorn, BH, Pidgeon, N
Abstract

Shale gas and oil production in the US has increased rapidly in the past decade, while interest in prospective development has also arisen in the UK. In both countries, shale resources and the method of their extraction (hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’) have been met with opposition amid concerns about impacts on water, greenhouse gas emissions, and health effects. Here we report the findings of a qualitative, cross-national deliberation study of public perceptions of shale development in UK and US locations not yet subject to extensive shale development. When presented with a carefully calibrated range of risks and benefits, participants’ discourse focused on risks or doubts about benefits, and potential impacts were viewed as inequitably distributed. Participants drew on direct, place-based experiences as well as national contexts in deliberating shale development. These findings suggest that shale gas development already evokes a similar ‘signature’ of risk across the US and UK.

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