Thursday, June 13, 2013

Frac Sand: Emerging Conflicts and Community Organzing

Several months ago I was invited to write an article describing my research on frac sand issues for an academic journal called Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE). The article was finally published this month:

Pearson, Thomas W. 2013. Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin: Understanding Emerging Conflicts and Community Organizing. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 35(1):30-40.

  • Abstract: Over the past few years industrial sand mining has expanded rapidly in western Wisconsin, driven largely by the use of sand in hydraulic fracturing, itself a controversial technology widely deployed in natural gas and oil drilling throughout the United States. A unique geological history combined with existing railroad networks has positioned Wisconsin as a major supplier of “frac sand” and thus a key link in a wider hydrocarbon commodity chain. The unprecedented growth of frac sand mining, however, has raised new social and environmental concerns, becoming the target of grassroots organizing. This article reports on ongoing ethnographic research focused on frac sand conflicts, providing an overview of the main areas of contention, the trajectory of community organizing, and the response of the mining industry. 

The issue of CAFE in which this article appears includes a few other research reports addressing the social dimensions of hydraulic fracturing and the anthropology of energy.

I'm always interested in what people think. If you have comments or feedback, feel free to contact me!