Science, Democracy, and Fracking

A Guide for Community Residents and Policy Makers Facing Decisions over Hydraulic Fracturing

Published Sep 10, 2013 Updated Mar 31, 2017

Recent advances in hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) technology are leading to a rapid expansion in domestic oil and gas production. The pace of growth is driving many communities to make decisions without access to comprehensive and reliable scientific information about the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on their local air and water quality, community health, safety, economy, environment, and overall quality of life.

If you are an active community member in a place facing decisions about fracking, this toolkit is for you. It provides practical advice and resources to help you identify the critical questions to ask and get the scientific information you need when weighing the prospects and risks of shale oil or shale gas development in your region.

This toolkit can improve decision making on fracking by helping you to:

  • Identify critical issues about the potential impacts of fracking in your area, and how to obtain answers to your questions
  • Distinguish reliable information from misinformation or spin—and help your neighbors and local decision makers do the same
  • Identify and communicate with scientists, journalists, policy makers, and community groups that should be part of the public discussion
  • Identify and engage with the key actors in your community to influence oil and gas policy at the local and state level

What are people saying about fracking?

If you're curious about the current state of the national conversation about fracking, you might find the results of our post-forum survey enlightening. UCS blogger Deborah Bailin looks at the language respondents used and explores the implications for policy makers and activists.


Related resources