Over the last 15 years, the USA has experienced a dramatic increase in the volume of oil and gas produced domestically, primarily due to unconventional technologies like hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling. However, this boom has met with much controversy as it may threaten environmental quality and human health and bring unwanted changes to local communities. While some communities have resisted the expansion of development, others have fully embraced the industry. In addition, this boom has occurred during an era of de-regulation and devolution, leaving states and localities struggling to foment a policy response. In this manuscript, we blend place-based factors like “colliding treadmills,” place attachment, and community economic identity to explain support for oil and gas regulations among a sample of CO residents. Results and implications for future research are discussed.
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The term fracking technically refers to a very specific portion of a larger process of oil and gas development involving the injection of water and chemicals at high velocity to shatter rock formations. However, the public often uses the term fracking to refer to the larger process of unconventional onshore oil and gas development.
The place literature is truly vast. For reviews and theoretical discussion, we recommend Scannell and Gifford (2010a), Hidalgo and Hernandez (2001), Cross (2015), Lewicka (2011), and Twigger-Ross and Uzzell (1996). The splintered, multidisciplinary nature of the sense of place literature have likely hindered its theoretical and methodological development (Trentelman 2009; Hernandez et al. 2013).
Sometimes, scholars study community economic identity without invoking the term. In his study of fracking in LA, Ladd (2014) notes that: “Louisiana residents have long shown a high degree of comfort with the oil and gas industry, implicitly trust it to create jobs and wealth, ensure worker safety, and protect the environment” (p.304–305).
By default, most software packages use a Pearson correlation matrix for factor analysis. Polychoric correlations are specifically designed to estimate the relationship between ordinal variables (Olsson 1979) and are recommended for use in factor analysis with ordinal data (Tello–Holgado et al. 2010).
Blaacker et al. (2012) provide the only other quantitative operationalization of community economic identity using a sample of WV college students. We adapted their indicators and found that they pretested poorly. The new indicators developed for this study performed well in cognitive pretesting.
For instance, the scale offered by Scannell and Gifford (2010b) was pretested. Respondents described several questions as “silly” and occasionally laughed. Respondents also complained that the scales were highly repetitive and occasionally grew agitated. Motivated by these concerns, we opted for a simpler way of measuring place attachment.
For instance, Jorgensen and Stedman (2001) asked respondents about their attachment to their lakeshore properties while Ramkissoon et al. (2013) studied sense of place related to a national park. While predefining a place for respondents in a survey instrument was appropriate for these studies, it was deemed inappropriate for this research given that it uses a statewide sample.
We scrapped a COGCC shapefile for active well latitude and longitude using the shp2dta command, and the command user written geonear was then used to calculated distance to the nearest well. The primary disadvantage of this method is that we do not have access to actual addresses for the anonymous survey respondents. However, this method is more precise than other options, such as using county-level well counts.
The lack of an effect of trust in regulators is worthy of further discussion. One possibility is that some respondents, particularly politically conservative respondents, have a general distrust of state regulators, while other respondents may regulators as corrupt or inept (Opsal and Shelley 2014). To some degree, these twin forces may cancel out the effect of trust in regulators on policy support.
We performed additional checks to verify that excluding trust in the COGCC and CDPHE and benefit perceptions was warranted. First, we ran an additional OLS model with the same specification as model 1 but those variables excluded. The R 2 for this model was .08 higher in the simpler model, strongly suggesting that these variables did not help explain any additional variation in policy attitudes. We also implemented k-fold cross-validation using tenfolds and examined RMSE statistics for models including the excluded predictors and those without. The RMSE statistics were quite similar in both model specifications, indicating that the three excluded variables did not improve the predictive performance of the model. Thus, benefit perceptions and trust in regulators, while potentially theoretically important, did not improve explained variation or predictive ability for our models.
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We thank the Rural Sociological Society and The Institute for Learning and Teaching at Colorado State University for generous research support. The following undergraduate research assistants assisted with data collection: Chloe Thome, Andrew Walz, Daniel Callahan, Ruby Castro, Marie Harding, Nolan Case, Neil Griffith, Danny Valdez, Heather Crosby, Rich Fordham, Lauren Perotti, Jose Gomez, David Strait, JD Haley, Ryan Becker, Jessie Miranda, Lauren Hartsough, Taylor Loberg, Alyssa Jansekok, Alexandra Poynter, Allison Brown and Jazmine Gonzalez. Chloe Thome, Andrew Walz, Daniel Callahan, Ruby Castro, Marie Harding, Nolan Case, Neil Griffith, Danny Valdez, Heather Crosby, Rich Fordham, Lauren Perotti, Jose Gomez, David Strait, JD Haley, Ryan Becker, Jessie Miranda, Lauren Hartsough, Taylor Loberg, Alyssa Jansekok, Alexandra Poynter, Allison Brown and Jazmine Gonzalez.
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Mayer, A. Community economic identity and colliding treadmills in oil and gas governance. J Environ Stud Sci 8, 1–12 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-017-0435-8
- Community economic identity