Thursday, February 13, 2014

Deescalating the Fracking Wars

When your congressman takes out a full page ad against you in your hometown newspaper, it’s safe to say that things have gotten out of hand. (It was the letter shown in this blog.) As with most New Year’s Resolutions, this one is getting to a late start. I’m devoting my writing and speaking of 2014 to Zenergy.
Zenergy? Hey, at least you read it here first.
noun: zenergy

1. the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity attainable through contemplation, self-awareness, and meditation

2. appreciation for the power derived from the utilization of physical or chemical resources, esp. to provide light and heat or to work machines

3. a person's calm and focused physical and mental powers, typically as applied to a particular task or activity

So that’s just the definition of energy with some calming stuff in there. And that’s exactly what I propose here. Together we take 2014 and we disarm the fracking wars through calm, thoughtful, honest engagement.

Not too long ago I avoided all references to war and use of war metaphors in my education and engagement work on oil and gas, but now I think it could be helpful to call a bayonet a bayonet. The simple truth of the matter is that we all use energy. We need energy. And whatever your vision for our energy future may include, at this moment, our real lives include a lot of petroleum.

The fracking wars have gotten completely out of control and totally unproductive for everyone except the extremes. Most people I talk to want more information, but they want it presented in an unbiased way, from a reliable source. The fracking wars are about sound bites, scare tactics, and either-or framing of the issues. Both sides engage in this and I equally reject Ban Fracking and Drill Baby Drill.

I think it’s a good practice to avoid generalizations of the parties involved in the fracking wars and to ignore conspiracy theories on both sides. However, it is useful to use this litmus test to identify who is part of the fracking wars and who will be part of a meaningful conversation about responsible energy development that can move us forward: are they more wedded to the fight than the solution? Are you more wedded to the fight than to finding resolution?

It’s hard to admit, but it is easy to fall into the trap of an us-vs-them, high stakes framing of the oil and gas conversation. This 2014 blog is about identifying, noticing, and avoiding those traps so that collectively we can be part of the solution.

A lot is at stake for all of us. Because access to energy is the building block for quality of life and basic prosperity, the fracking wars affect us all. And this blog is just step 1, and it’s a conversation. Send me your ideas, your guest blog on how we can all participate in changing the fracking wars to energy dialogue. 

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