The Course

Lehigh University Marcellus Shale - Hydraulic fracturing"Environment, the Public and the Mass Media," (Jour/ES 125) is a writing intensive course taught by Prof. Sharon M. Friedman, director of Lehigh's Science and Environmental Writing Program in the Department of Journalism and Communication. Open to all Lehigh students, it is required for students who major in Science and Environmental Writing and serves as a core course for students majoring in Environmental Studies. Students who worked on the Shale research project in both years included sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Requirements for the Fracking Project:

During the four years this project has been conducted─2012 to 2015─ the students' papers were written to be part of a website, rather than as essays. They contained a short introduction; a main discussion section about a particular topic related to Marcellus Shale; a brief interview with an individual about the topic; short profiles of four key individuals or groups involved in the issue; selected annotated web resources about the topic with hotlinks; a further information section with hotlinks; and a bibliography.  Several illustrations were required. The students also gave oral presentations about their topics.  In 2013, besides writing their research papers, students were required to record a short video that described their project’s findings. In 2015, topics about natural gas pipelines planned to deliver Marcellus Shale gas were added as possible subjects.

The 2014 and 2015 topics for the Marcellus Project were:

  • Job Creation, Workers’ Regulations and Health Concerns (2014)
  • The Business of Fracking and Corporate Power (2014)
  • Hydraulic Fracturing and Public Health (2015)
  • Disposal of Hazardous Wastewater from Hydraulic Fracturing (2015)
  • Advocacy and Fracking (2015)
  • The Nuances of Mineral Rights (2015)
  • Overview of America’s Pipeline System (2015)
  • Pipeline Regulation and the PennEast Pipeline (2015)
  • Pipeline Controversy in the News (2015)

The 2013 topics for the Marcellus Project were:

The Business End of Fracking

  • The geology of fracking and the fracking process*
  • Drilling trends and required supporting infrastructure*
  • New drilling technologies and processes *+
  • National economic effects*+
  • Local economic effects*

Community Impact and Regulations

  • Job creation in communities*
  • Federal regulations and the Halliburton Loophole *+
  • State regulations: A comparison on “Colorado and Pennsylvania*+
  • Fracking on federal public and Indian tribal lands*
  • Fracking on state public lands: A comparison of Michigan and Pennsylvania*+

Impacts on the Environment, Health and Citizens

  • Water scarcity and using water for fracking*
  • Wastewater from the fracking process*
  • Environmental effects of fracking on farmland*
  • Comparisons among natural gas, coal and alternative energies*+
  • Health impacts related to fracking*
  • Groups for and against fracking *

The 2012 topics assigned for the Marcellus project were:

  • the process of hydraulic fracturing
  • the economics of fracking
  • a history of boom and bust development and its effects on communities
  • environmental and health problems related to fracking
  • federal and Pennsylvania fracking regulations and enforcement
  • the role and actions of the oil and gas companies and their trade associations
  • the activities of anti-fracking activist and environmental groups
  • the views of citizens in communities caught up in fracking issues.

*video available on the website

+research paper available on the website

The brief question-and-answer interviews included in the papers on this website are reported with the permission of those interviewed; some people did not grant permission and are missing.  Readers of these papers should remember that these are overviews rather than fully developed research papers, though they contain important hotlinks to more developed information. Because the videos are short, they provide only brief highlights on the topics these students researched.