Poster Paper: How to Understand Fracking Policymaking: Images, Narratives, and Policy Elites’ Perceptions on Hydraulic Fracturing

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Creed Tumlison1, Rachael Moyer1, Geoboo Song1 and Michael Jones2, (1)University of Arkansas, (2)Oregon State University

Hydraulic Fracturing (“Fracking”) is a relatively recently utilized method of oil and gas extraction that has experienced significant controversy. Proponents argue that fracking provides economic benefits to local communities, reduced energy costs, and better enables energy independence. Alternatively, detractors argue that fracking entails excessive risks, particularly associated with the environment and human health. Thus, advocates utilize arguments regarding fracking that largely focus on separate and distinct components – economic benefits versus environmental and health risks – in an effort to either gain support for fracking operations or, alternatively, support for increased fracking-oriented regulations. This study utilizes the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) to examine the efficacy of policy narratives associated with fracking on local policy elites. Specifically, we examine how the images associated with fracking that are held by local policy elites influence the efficacy of narrative communications regarding fracking, with a particular focus on when previously held images and narratives are (in)congruent. For this, we utilize a survey experiment conducted on local policy elites in Arkansas (a state with current fracking operations) and Oregon (a state without current fracking operations). Preliminary results indicate that the relative (in)congruence between the prior held images associated with fracking and the policy narrative received impacts a narrative’s efficacy in terms of fracking related attitudes and policy preferences. Implications for policy-making, and the policy process in general, are discussed.