The framing of shale gas development has received widespread attention, especially in the UK, United States, and throughout Europe. However, little has been said about what lessons can be learned from the shale development case about the role of language in use in the construction, contestation and closure of environmental problems. This article teases out and clarifies the subtle variations in the way the concept of the “frame” has been interpreted and operationalized; puts forward an analysis of the difficulty of achieving discursive closure in the UK shale development policy debate; and identifies possible implications of the failure of the “bridging fuel” argument for environmental discourse more broadly, asking in particular if this failure represents a challenge to ecological modernization or its continuation.
Laurence Williams is a Research Fellow in Environmental Politics at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School in the United Kingdom. His main research interests lie in sociotechnical controversies and public engagement with and participation in issues relating to science, technology, and innovation. He has studied the case of hydraulic fracturing and shale gas in the UK since 2012, including work on public perceptions, public participation, and policy discourse. ORCID: