“As soon as you hear the word ‘frack,’ ” said Jane Lynn, a drilling activist from Arlington, “you think of cancer, poisoned water, ruining the environment. And the gas companies brought it on themselves because they misrepresented what drilling in urban neighborhoods was going to actually mean to those of us living in those neighborhoods.”


Drilling industry concerns over the increasing negative power of the word “frack” first surfaced at an industry conference last year. One of the folks at the two-day event, called the Media and Stakeholders Relations Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative, was Sharon Wilson, an anti-gas drilling blogger and organizer for Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project.


“The first time it came up was when a woman at one of the seminars said that everywhere she went, people were talking about fracking,” Wilson said. “And Michael Kehs” — Chesapeake Energy’s vice president of strategic affairs and public relations — “said the industry should discourage the use of the word ‘fracking.’ He said he preferred to use the word ‘drilling’ because there is a constituency for drilling while there is not one for fracking.”

Another speaker, Wilson recalled, said that “fracking is an obscene term and sounds scary. People are using the word ‘fracking’ to scare people, and we have to overcome that scare tactic.”

Wilson said that Greg Matusky, president of the public relations firm Gregory FCA of Ardmore, Pa., stated that in terms of language sentiment, “fracking ranked lower than strip mining,” showing it was a divisive term that shouldn’t be used by industry.

Chesapeake spokespersons didn’t return Fort Worth Weekly’s calls to discuss the issue. Devon Energy’s spokesman Chip Minty said he had no opinion on whether the word had negative connotations.

Ed Ireland, executive director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, an industry-supported group, did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

Tim Ruggiero is a former resident of Decatur who moved out of the Barnett Shale in January, two years after Aruba Petroleum drilled a gas well on his property — he didn’t own the mineral rights — and his children began to get sick from the emissions.

“The gas companies think they’re suffering from a public perception problem,” Ruggiero said. “What they’re really suffering from is a credibility problem. You can only catch someone in so many lies and distortions of the truth before you don’t believe anything they say. So they brought the frack attack on themselves.”


  1. How about: “Stop Fracking Up My Water Supply” or “Stop Fracking Up Our Aquifers”….. Millions upon millions of gallons of water (that cannot be replaced) being pulled from Texas aquifers even during drought conditions. People who had good, producing water wells just a few years back which are now going dry. And what do we get from the TCEQ???……. Crickets chirping………

  2. I noticed over the past few weeks that when I’ve read or heard a nat gas story in the paper, tv, or magazine they recently have been opting for the phrase ” hydraulic fracturing” rather than the f-word. I doubt that shift in word choice is accidental.

  3. Fort Worth and Arlington are all fracked up. What cities allow outside corporations to invade and take over enitire communities like this only to turn them into industrial zones? It is time to stop the build out and start class action lawsuits. Why has Southlake managed to keep the frackers out while we welcomed them? Do we really think this is good for property values or quality of life? Who would want to live here now? We’re friggen frieken fracked.

  4. Hey Liz.. guess what, they are almost gone. There are only 7 rigs operating in Tarrant county today, Wise has 9…that’s a first.

    Of course I hope your well being (your business or job) doesn’t rely on the Barnett because along with the drilling goes the jobs, services, welders, drivers, dirt work, fence, landscaping… you get the idea.