Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2015

Articulations of Fracking Fields: State Diplomacy, Corporate Energy and Environmental Movements Across the European Union and USA

Michael Kennedy

October 2014

Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University


Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a technology that allows commercially viable retrieval of previously inaccessible hydrocarbons. Its more recent applications to shale formations have allowed energy producers to generate natural gas in measures and places unforeseen. Fracking’s widespread embrace in the United States has transformed America’s position in the post WWII energy world, generating a new, if variable, level of public discourse around energy and environment. Assessing fracking’s risk to the environment has been constituted into a clear field in the USA, but that same influence in environmental debate has trouble traveling, especially to Europe. There, fracking is implicated in a different kind of energy field, one linked closely to security and transnational geopolitical solidarity, especially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Energy security and environmental security wind up being debated in distant fields. Their articulation could be enhanced, however, by introducing temporality more explicitly into the discussion.