Presentation Title

Legitimation of the Shale Gas Industry in West Virginia

Presenter Information

Abi TaylorFollow

Document Type

Panel Presentation

Keywords

Shale Gas, West Virginia, Hegemony

Biography

Abi Taylor is a West Virginia native with a passion for social and environmental justice. She grew up in Fayetteville before moving to Huntington to study Anthropology and Psychology at Marshall. Her career aspirations lie in activist work in her community to seek a more just and sustainable future for Central Appalachia.

Major

Anthropology, Psychology

Advisor for this project

Kristi Fondren

Start Date

22-4-2021 9:15 AM

Abstract

The focus of this study is on the legitimatizing messaging strategies used by extraction industries to maintain hegemony over the communities they reside in. Specifically, this research delves into the legitimizing practices of the shale gas industry in West Virginia. This work is situated in the context of a fossil fuel hegemony created by the coal industry and a political and industrial emphasis on shale gas extraction in Central Appalachia since 2008. The purpose is to identify the characteristics of the dominant messages that exists in West Virginia about the natural gas industry and how it is being portrayed by industry to the general public via local news. A qualitative media analysis was conducted using 38 news article samples collected from news outlets in West Virginia within a three and half month timeframe, December 1, 2020 – March 15, 2021. A system for coding each sample was identified by using past research on legitimizing strategies used by the coal industry in West Virginia and studies on strategies used by natural gas and oil companies in the Marcellus shale region and nationally. The research also factors in potential for new or unknown strategies by assigning a code with no predetermined value. Research findings identified greenwashing, emphasis on economic benefits and job provision, and energy independence and national security as the most common messages of legitimation. Patterns were found to suggest potential new messages such as the importance of natural gas to manufacturing, an emphasis on the abundance of gas in Central Appalachia, using carbon capture and innovation to decrease pollution, and using the pandemic or a local disaster event to justify need for the industry.

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Apr 22nd, 9:15 AM

Legitimation of the Shale Gas Industry in West Virginia

The focus of this study is on the legitimatizing messaging strategies used by extraction industries to maintain hegemony over the communities they reside in. Specifically, this research delves into the legitimizing practices of the shale gas industry in West Virginia. This work is situated in the context of a fossil fuel hegemony created by the coal industry and a political and industrial emphasis on shale gas extraction in Central Appalachia since 2008. The purpose is to identify the characteristics of the dominant messages that exists in West Virginia about the natural gas industry and how it is being portrayed by industry to the general public via local news. A qualitative media analysis was conducted using 38 news article samples collected from news outlets in West Virginia within a three and half month timeframe, December 1, 2020 – March 15, 2021. A system for coding each sample was identified by using past research on legitimizing strategies used by the coal industry in West Virginia and studies on strategies used by natural gas and oil companies in the Marcellus shale region and nationally. The research also factors in potential for new or unknown strategies by assigning a code with no predetermined value. Research findings identified greenwashing, emphasis on economic benefits and job provision, and energy independence and national security as the most common messages of legitimation. Patterns were found to suggest potential new messages such as the importance of natural gas to manufacturing, an emphasis on the abundance of gas in Central Appalachia, using carbon capture and innovation to decrease pollution, and using the pandemic or a local disaster event to justify need for the industry.