‘Fracking’ term is the pits for public relations pros

What’s in a name?

For the natural gas industry and its chief Washington spokesman, one ugly eight-letter word bears at least some of the blame for the bitter opposition, protests and claims of water pollution bedeviling producers: “fracking.”

Short for “hydraulic fracturing,” the term was originally engineering slang for the technical process using water, sand and chemicals to crack underground rock formations and allow companies to extract deep deposits of natural gas.

But the term has taken on a life of its own, and “Don’t frack with our water” has become a rallying cry for critics.

“If I’d gone to Madison Avenue and gave them a lot of money and said: ‘Come up with the worst possible term to describe this industrial process of extracting gas,’ they couldn’t have done any better. ‘Fracking’ is absolutely the worst,” lamented Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the American Gas Association, in an interview with The Washington Times on Tuesday.

“It strikes people the wrong way,” he said.

Since the word has found a permanent place in the energy lexicon, Mr. McCurdy said the best remedy is to dispel myths and confront the many misnomers about natural gas drilling head on.

“It’s all about education,” he said.

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