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People, places, and perceptions: complexity in citizen responses to hydraulic fracturing in northern Colorado




Stephens, Alyssa, author
Cross, Jennifer E., advisor
Shelley, Tara O'Conner, committee member
Davis, Charles, committee member

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Between June of 2012 and November of 2013, five Northern Colorado communities passed citizen-initiated ballot measures limiting hydraulic fracturing. Though overtly this was about protecting health and safety, much of the opposition stemmed from the perception of a broken relationship between communities, governments, and corporations. This research constructs a case study of local opposition to hydraulic fracturing in Northern Colorado using a combination of in-depth interviews, surveys, participant observation, and document review. Through tracing convergences and divergences in organizational responses over time, this research examines how communities experiencing the same threat—hydraulic fracturing—ultimately interpreted both the threat and what was being threatened in new ways based on the discursive resources provided to them through their communities and networks. In contrast to characterizations of negative responses to the threat of extractive industries as one-dimensional "NIMBY-ism", the results of this research emphasize the complexity of responses and the variations in how citizens interpret the circumstances surrounding threats, build relationships, and take action to protect their community.


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community ideology
environmental justice
hydraulic fracturing
place attachment
social movements
social network analysis


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