Fracking: everybody wants a word

Though our focus for The Fracking Play is on PA and ND, it’s also a hot topic in NY, the state where Patrick and I both live now. The NY Department of Environmental Conservation has received tens of thousands of comments from organizations and individuals related to the issue of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale (that’s the same shale deposit that extends into PA). It sounds like they’re maybe a bit overwhelmed by all the responses.

It makes me really curious about how this compares to public comment on similar issues in the past. Is the involvement of the public particularly high here? If so, is it because it’s just easier to submit comments, thanks to the Internet? Or is it because the issue of fracking is more widely publicized (also possibly thanks to the Internet)? Is it because of past disasters associated with practices like drilling for oil? Is it because of the way fracking is being portrayed to the public?

I wonder what the comments are like.

I’d like to put together a massive file of them and run some kind of analytic: tally the most commonly used words, investigate the language itself. Compare that to the vocabulary used in published and popularized accounts of fracking.

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