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Discussion Prompt: Hydraulic Fracturing Case Study (Role Play) Characters:

  • Farmer MacDonald—The MacDonald family has been ranching for 40 years. Their livelihood is raising cattle. They depend on the aquifer to water their cattle and irrigate their hay fields. They also get their drinking water from the groundwater aquifer.
  • Mr./Mrs. Jones—They live on the property adjacent to the MacDonald ranch. Energy for Everyone Corporation estimates that the Joneses could make 10 million dollars in royalties if gas was extracted using hydraulic fracturing on their land. They have three young children.
  • Dr. Miller is an environmental health scientist for the state health department.
  • Ronnie is an environmental regulator for the state Oil and Gas Commission
  • Mr. Smithers is the CEO of Energy for Everyone Corporation, a natural gas drilling company.
  • Billie has been unemployed for four years and was just offered a job in the gas field.
  • Commissioner Sanders is the county commissioner. The county recently had a budget shortfall and will have cut funding to the school district or consider raising taxes. The county could see a windfall in revenue if drilling occurs. Commissioner Sanders lives next to the Joneses and the MacDonald ranch. Commission Sanders has a daughter who suffers from asthma and is sensitive to air pollution.
  • Sunny Daze is an environmental activist and works for the Sierra Club.

Case: A gas-rich shale formation was discovered in the county by Energy for Everyone Corp (EFE).  EFE has submitted a proposal to the state oil and gas commission to drill and hydraulic fracture to capture the gas.  A town hall meeting was convened for stakeholders to express their views on EFE’s proposal. Present the viewpoint of your character by answering the following questions:

  • Do you believe that hydraulic fracturing should be permitted in the county? Why or why not? Use information from the course resources to support your viewpoint and incorporate what you discovered in this week’s Biblical Perspective.
  • Do you agree with the following statement? Explain why or why not.

Our national energy plan should not be a rigid set of production and conservation goals dictated by the Government. Our primary objective is simply for our citizens to have enough energy, and it is up to them to decide how much energy that is, and in what form and manner it will reach them.
~ President Ronald Reagan, (Message to the Congress Transmitting the National Energy Policy Plan July 17, 1981).