ACCOUNTING FOR ‘HOW WE KNOW’ ABOUT THE SAFETY/RISKS WITH HYDROFRACKING: AN INTERGOVERNMENTAL HEARING ON THE REVISED ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT ON WHETHER TO PERMIT HYDROFRACKING IN NEW YORK STATE
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Accounting for ‘how we know’ about the safety/risks with hydrofracking: an intergovernmental hearing on the revised Environmental Impact Statement on whether to permit hydrofracking in New York state

 

An intergovernmental hearing on permitting hydrofracking in New York State is examined. This hearing proved to be a key moment in the debate on hydrofracking. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) advocates for accepting their revised Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), while some Assembly members raise concerns about the risks and are critical of the EIS. The focus is on how techno-scientific discourse is formulated to argue for or against permitting hydrofracking. In particular, models are cited. The DEC uses extreme-case formulations to amplify their knowledge claims about their modeling. ‘Extreme-case formulations’ involve heightened, maximal descriptions of how they know through modeling. Formulations can also be used to deflate the accuracy of modeling. The boom-and-bust cycle model is challenged by the DEC through the practice of reformulation. The boom-and-bust cycle is reformulated to a more benign process to counter the Assembly member’s account. Such techno-scientific discourse of modeling and with their extreme-case formulations need to be seen as a situated social activity and for their discursive, rhetorical, or affective dimensions in contexts such as intergovernmental hearings.

Keywords: Hydrofracking, intergovernmental hearing, Environmental Impact Statement, modeling, discursive analysis

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