Communicating Hydrofracking

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Environmental Communication Special Issue
Communicating Hydrofracking

Deadline 5th January 2015

High-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHHF) is an unconventional method of gas and oil extraction commonly known as “hydrofracking” or “fracking” in North America and the UK, or coal-seam gas extraction in Australia.  HVHHF involves injecting water, sand, and chemicals into horizontal wells to fracture shale or coal seams to release deposits of natural gas and oil.  It has been called a “game changer” for energy production world-wide.  In depressed rural areas, natural gas drilling is seen as an economic boon for communities.  Natural gas is touted as a cleaner burning source of energy than coal and a way to reduce green-house gas emissions.  HVHHF, however, comes with a suite of social and environmental concerns such as water contamination, air pollution, increased truck traffic and road damage, seismic activity, economic boom-bust cycling, and industrial stigma.  The cumulative impacts of HVHHF on local communities, the environment and on anthropogenic climate change are currently unknown but its impact on other fossil fuel and renewable energy sources and supporting technologies is already becoming obvious to energy and environmental researchers alike.

In countries where HVHHF is under way (e.g., US, UK, Poland, Australia) numerous environmental or public health controversies have arisen.  There is presently a ban or moratorium on HVHHF in France, Germany, Quebec, parts of Switzerland, Bulgaria, and New York State.  To put this issue into perspective, HVHHF is arguably the most contentious environmental controversy in New York State history and has been called the policy question of the decade. This special edition of Environmental Communication aims to contribute to this debate through studies of communication processes or impacts on many levels from gas company advertising, to media coverage, grassroots groups’ formation and strategizing, public hearings, conflicting experts’ assessments, governmental decision-making processes, and environmental review processes.

Suggested areas of focus include, but are not limited to:

  • Studies of the competing voices, interests, and discourses involved in the controversy     
  • The David vs. Goliath story of multinational gas companies’ reach in rural, peri-urban and urban areas
  • Grass-roots citizen group formation and strategies in calling for regulations or a ban
  • Scientific/technical experts offering conflicting risk assessments
  • Impact of HVHHF on energy production and infrastructure dialogue such as moving to renewable energy sources
  • Tensions between science and politics in decision making
  • News media coverage and its impact on public opinion
  • The influence of documentaries, e.g., Gasland, or feature films, e.g., Promised Land, on the public and the gas industry’s critical response
  • Sense of place: accounts of living in a fractured landscape and the industrialization of rural landscapes and communities
  • Environmental impact review: writing the Environmental Impact Statement, public hearings, inter-governmental hearings
  • The uses of the Internet (listservs, web pages, social media) in mobilizing opposition or support
  • Door-to-door contact (landsmen seeking landowners to lease, opponents circulating a petition to ban, campaigning for political office), lawn signs

Submission Instructions

Word limit: 8,000 words (including references) or

To find out more, read our Instructions for Authors. The journal adheres to APA Style. Manuscripts must not be under review elsewhere or have appeared in any other published form. All submissions should use the Scholar One Website accompanied by a cover letter indicating the desire to have the submission reviewed for this special issue. Upon notification of acceptance, authors must assign copyright to Taylor and Francis and provide copyright clearance for any copyrighted material.

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Richard Buttny, Syracuse University (
  • Guest Editor: Andrea M. Feldpausch-Parker, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry(