The hegemonic backdrop for U.S. energy is shaped by the country’s dependence on foreign oil. American society has come to rely on fossil fuels, and would struggle to function without them, and in order to meet consumer demand, the country is forced to import obscene amounts of oil. The pressure is on to find a way to meet U.S. energy needs without having to rely so heavily on foreign oil. Adding to this pressure is the emergence of climate change science. The dominant idea, at least among younger generations, is that the U.S. (and the world, for that matter) needs to drastically cut its CO2 emissions.

The subject of unconventional shale gas drilling, however, is not dominated by a single hegemonic idea. Supporters rely heavily on the belief that fracking is a cleaner burning, domestic energy source, which could provide an alternative to imported oil. It would be a short-term solution, however, as shale gas (like oil) is a non-renewable resource, and scientists do not have a clear idea of just how much of it exists within U.S. soil. A major flaw in this discourse is the fact that the U.S. exports natural gas; what good is a domestic energy source is it is being exported to other countries?

The dominant idea among fracking opposition is that it poses a significant threat to the environment. Studies have shown negative impacts on water quality, as well as significant methane (a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2) emissions. Emerging research on the health impacts of unconventional gas drilling also contributes to the anti-fracking argument.

I'm thinking I should add something in here about gender... but I'm not sure yet if there is a hegemonic idea that dominates the relationship between women and environmental risk perceptions.... Need to do some more reading?