Hydrofracturing in New Frackillvania

By Daniel C. Matisoff, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Georgia Institute of Technology

Summary 

The Governor of New Frackillvania has recently convened a stakeholder process to make decisions and potential generate consensus about the future of fossil fuel extraction using the controversial practice of hydrofracturing. New Frackillvania has vast natural gas resources that can be exploited via hydrofracturing, a technique of using water, chemicals, and sand injected at high pressures to fracture shale and producing oil and natural gas. The extraction of these fossil fuel resources can produce economic development and wealth, but also can produce a wide range of environmental, health, and social ills related to the damages caused by the hydrofracturing process; the social challenges associated with boom and bust economic cycles; and inequalities generated by an asymmetric alignment of costs and benefits associated with fossil fuel extraction in these communities. Students in this exercise will role play as a participant in this stakeholder process. Roles include citizen interest organizations; environmental organizations; industry groups; and academic experts. Students will learn some of the strengths and weaknesses of deliberative processes, decision-making under scientific and economic uncertainty, as well as the complexities of hydrofracturing and resource extraction.


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