Home Environment Pulitzer Prize Winner Says Too Much Focus on Environmental Effects of Fracking

Pulitzer Prize Winner Says Too Much Focus on Environmental Effects of Fracking

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Pulitzer Prize winner Dimiter Kenarov led a discussion on fracking’s social and economic effects on Monday in Porter Hall at Ohio University.

The Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Affairs, the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the Journalism Honors Tutorial College hosted this event.

Hydraulic-fracturing is a method of mining in which cracks are created in a type of rock called shale in order to obtain natural gases used for energy purposes. Fracking has stirred controversy in the Athens area and continues to be subject to debate, even after Athens passed an ordinance to ban fracking within the city limits not long ago.

Dr. Geoffrey Dabelko, director of environmental studies at the Voinovich School, opened the presentation by pointing out how important the issue is, not only to the United States, but also to the world.

“This is a very local issue and having an understanding of this international conflict is very important,” Dabelko said.

With competing viewpoints, contradicting studies conducted by universities across the United States and more people researching the fracking process than actually performing the action, Kenarov began his own investigative reporting on the hot topic, funded by the Pulitzer Center and the publishers of ShaleReporter.com, Calkins Media.

“I’ve written stories on the war in Iraq and serial killers, but this is by far the hardest project I’ve ever worked on,” said Kenarov.

Poland, Pennsylvania and Ohio are all on the long list of places Kenarov has conducted his research and gathered information to write his series on the benefits and consequences of fracking around the world.

Kenarov decided to do the majority of his economic research in regards to fracking in Ohio’s Steel City. Youngstown has seen economic decline since the steel mills were taken out, along with hundreds of jobs, and has struggled to come back from the downfall.

Kenarov shied away from speaking about the environmental effects on the places he researched because fracking is still in its early stages of research. The conversation with the audience was more economically and socially driven than it was about the environment.

His focus was to go beyond the hype that the media had already made public to the world.

Kenarov concentrated his research in Europe, as he spent the majority of his time talking with farmers and community members in Poland. The 2006-2009 crisis in Poland and the 2010 U.S. Global shale gas initiative were also subjects of his research.

Although Kenarov says he has done a fair amount of research and heard arguments and testimonies from both sides of the debate, he has formulated his own opinion.

”I personally don’t think fracking will continue for much longer due to economics and I think it would be better to wait until we do more research on dumping, disposing and better technologies and mechanics,” Kenarov said. “Companies have gotten better about these on their own, but people have become guinea pigs for this. The government should go at a slower place so better regulations are in place so the American people don’t have to suffer.”

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