Acadiana Business

Forbes: The ‘fracking' image problem

by Heather Miller

A study conducted by LSU concludes that when it comes to fracking, gas companies would be wise to find another word to describe the hydraulic fracturing process. As energy companies continue to battle PR nightmares amid the "fracking" age - earthquakes in Ohio and flammable tap water, anyone? - a new study by LSU concludes that the process of hydraulic fracturing to uncover natural gas deep within the earth could be better served with a new nickname.

According to a report from Forbes, LSU's study randomly surveyed 731 Louisiana residents and found that they were less supportive of "fracking" but perhaps more supportive of hydraulic fracturing, implying that the terminology is impacting public perception:
In other words, the study suggests gas companies would benefit from using other words.

"Public aversion to the term likely results from the harsh consonants and perhaps the obvious similarity to a certain other four-letter word," LSU's Michael Climek says in a press release. "And this research shows that the unpleasant sound of the word is at least partially responsible for residents thinking fracking' is unsafe and that it should not be pursued by the state of Louisiana. If businesses and legislators use another word or description, constituents may be more willing to support hydraulic fracturing."

Of course, since it's impossible to assess whether hydraulic fracturing is safe based on its name, this is irrelevant from an environmental or public-health perspective. The LSU study is all about marketing, focusing on how to make fracking sound safe rather than actually making it safe.
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