Initiative 2013: The Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing on Communities

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Committed to addressing contemporary issues facing Coloradans and the world-at-large, CARTSS is initiating interdisciplinary research on the effects of hydraulic fracturing on the public health of communities. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used to extract hydrocarbons (petroleum, natural gas, and other fossil fuels) through the breaking up of rock layers with pressurized fluid. Since the discovery in the 1990’s that the use of particular chemicals in fracking makes the process of shale gas extraction more economical, the energy industry has increasingly employed this technique. However, environmentalists, public health specialists, and others have raised concerns that fracking is unsafe to humans and to other life. Disagreements and gaps in scientific research around the safety of fracking highlight uncertainties about its effects on communities, on public health, and on the natural environment.

In recognition of these ambiguities, contentions, concerns, and gaps in scientific knowledge and citizen understandings of the fracking process, this initiative aims to bring together leading scientists, academics, and professionals to bridge different perspectives on the topic. Of equal importance is CARTSS’ goal to help communicate our research questions and findings with the broader public, while expanding the dialogue with community members. Collaboration between all of these players will work to extend our understanding of how hydraulic fracturing affects communities socially, materially, culturally, politically, and economically.  CARTSS is bringing together social scientists, public health researchers, geologists, water engineers, and other scientists to begin exploring these issues and to support research on public health.