Americans don’t know much about fracking, apparently. That’s the takeaway from a recent study of their knowledge and opinions of the drilling technique. Researchers asked the 1,061 respondents what comes to mind when they hear the term hydraulic fracturing, and this is what they found (h/t Climate Central):
Fifty-eight percent [of respondents] specifically indicated that they did not know anything about the issue or responded with a statement that we considered irrelevant (such as “Battlestar Galactica”) or lacking speciﬁc detail to determine its relevance (i.e. “breaking” or “cracking”).
That the majority of respondents didn’t know anything about fracking (or at least anything relevant) isn’t necessarily surprising, but it does say something about the debate surrounding it. Casual observers of the issue often engage in polarizing word association games rather than absorb detailed information about the pros and cons of fracking. The study’s authors said that the survey results reflected a “general division that characterizes many energy issues: environment (i.e. water quality) versus economy (i.e. job creation).”But fracking isn’t an either/or issue. There’s a balance to be struck that will allow us to reap the benefits of the shale boom without poisoning the land. Cement casings, properly installed, prevent fracking fluids from migrating into water supplies. There’s a way to do this right, but that message isn’t being communicated as clearly as it ought to be—and movies like Gasland aren’t helping the public sort this out.[Oil rig image courtesy of Shutterstock]