Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Melinda Herrold-Menzies

Reader 2

Char Miller

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© 2015 Shannon J. Leap


The reliance upon and depletion of fossil fuels as an energy source puts pressure on individuals, communities, energy companies, and policy-makers. Hydraulic fracturing – known colloquially as fracking – as a method of drilling for oil and natural gas temporarily alleviates this pressure since it allows for the extraction previously inaccessible fossil fuels in shale rock deposits deep beneath the Earth’s surface. This has resulted in a nationwide “fracking boom,” which has come with its share of economic benefits. However, the process of fracking can be detrimental to human and environmental health. In reaction to the increasing development of this practice, many communities across the country are mobilizing against fracking. This thesis will focus on the grassroots activism against fracking in New York, where fracking was banned in December 2014, and in California, which is largely slated as the next frontier for the expansion of fracking and thus battleground for the fight against fracking. Using grassroots academic literature, media coverage of fracking and activism in each state, and interviews from organizers working in each state, this thesis will examine the motivations, frameworks, strategies, and tactics used in each grassroots campaign in order to offer lessons in successes and opportunities for improvement within these anti-fracking efforts and others across the country.