Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Neil H. Katz

Second Advisor

Robin Cooper

Third Advisor

Elena Bastidas

Abstract

The permitting process to determine whether high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) should be allowed in New York State has been controversial and protracted. There have been intense disputes between those who see HVHF as an economic benefit and those who assert it will jeopardize health and the environment. Using the case study research method, perceptions of directly affected stakeholders regarding the issues, benefits and limitations associated with the public participation process were explored. Purposive sampling yielded participants from the natural gas industry, municipal governments, local landowners and residents. Data collection methods involved in-depth interviews, focus groups and document analysis. Since the HVHF conflict concerned a future possibility of environmental degradation, theoretical foundations included complex systems and green ideology, the enactment of power and social dominance, environmental conflict resolution, and principles of collaborative management. Findings demonstrate that the public participation process was embedded in a traditional top-down policy development approach that did not accommodate conditions of high uncertainty, nor did it allow for the broader and deeper discourse needed when development involves socio-economic and environmental justice issues. Implications include the potential to apply principles and methods of collaborative management typically used for natural resource management. In particular, the adaptive co-management approach provides a framework for managing issues that require problem solving over time, an essential missing element of the current HVHF stakeholder engagement process where diverse stakeholders identified issues of trust, empowerment, rights and fairness.

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