The Earth Task Force (ETF) at New Vista High School in Boulder, CO has heard a lot about fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. Everything from the horrifying idea that fracking could contaminate water supplies to how beneficial it is as a lower emission fossil fuel.
Most people in Colorado rely on natural gas, which comes from fracking, to heat their homes and cook their food. For people of our generation, the decisions we make or don’t make about fracking will heavily influence our energy future.
ETF wanted to host an event to give ourselves and our peers reliable information about fracking. On March 31st, 2014 the Earth Task Force hosted a fracking panel at New Vista High School. The event brought together a diverse group of 5 panelists with different perspectives on fracking to speak at our school. There were two representatives from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a local retired engineer, a geologist from Geo-Link Inc., and an oil and gas specialist from Boulder County Public Health.
Panelists were invited to speak to the students about their perspectives and experiences surrounding hydraulic fracturing. The goal of the event was to educate the school community and provide a balanced discussion on an important environmental controversy. As high schoolers, many students will begin voting in the coming years. The Earth Task Force feels that it is important that their peers have the information they need in order to make informed decisions.
Each panelist was asked a variety of different questions that directly correlated with their field of expertise. The questions helped the student body understand the political, economic, and social impacts of fracking. Initially, the Earth Task Force found it challenging to find panelists who would present information with little bias, but the students felt it was a high priority in order to allow the student body to form their own opinions on this important issue. Finding panelists that would share nonbiased information was especially important surrounding fracking because there is a lot of misinformation being distributed from both sides.
After the panel, each Advisory (homeroom class) separated to debrief the panel, enabling students to share and discuss their overall impressions of the fracking panel. Student responses were incredibly enthusiastic about their deeper understanding of fracking. They especially appreciated being given the opportunity to form their own opinions about such a controversial and important environmental issue. Overall, the presenters provided great information and the student body was incredibly engaged, making it a very positive experience.
The challenge going forward is to encourage students to continue to investigate fracking and other environmental issues that affect our world. The ETF hopes that educational panels, like this one, light a spark in people to seek deeper information in order to make decisions in their lives.
About Earth Task Force:The Earth Task Force (ETF) is a Cottonwood Institute supported program at New Vista High School in Boulder, CO designed to give students an opportunity to take the lead to implement sustainability initiatives at their school.
Article written by Robert Harding, Camille Lauer and Raina Galbiati