Blog 8: Rhetorical Context Analysis for Unit 3 and 4

Blog 8: Rhetorical Context Analysis for Unit 3 and 4

1. What will you research and write about? Why are you interested in this topic?

*I will research and write about the hydraulic fracturing controversy. I am interested in this topic because I am interested in natural resources, particularly those of the United States, and want to preserve, or at least conserve and use sustainable practices to keep our resources healthy and viable for ourselves and future generations. I want to research this topic because the process used has potential implications for our watersheds and therefore our drinking water… nationwide. I also find this topic interesting because it involves natural gas, one of our main energy sources, and I want to see if there are cleaner and equally good or better alternatives, and if so, why we aren’t using them.

2. How is your topic in need of urgent, immediate attention—how is it exigent?

*Consumption of natural gas is increasing in the US, therefore fracking is occurring at this very moment. This is also exigent in that there are no federal regulations on this method of natural gas retrieval so local people have to rely on their state governments to regulate properly. This may be leading to contaminated drinking water supplies.

3. What do you already know about your topic? What do you need to learn about your topic?

*I already know the basic controversy/argument: fracking companies claim that they 1. Shouldn’t have to disclose their “slurry” that they are injecting into the ground and 2. That slurry is not contaminating drinking water and they are exempt from the Clean Water Act anyway, so it is no concern. The other side is local peoples near fracking rigs, environmentalists, and those with potentially affected drinking water claiming that the fracking process injects harmful chemicals into the ground that then leech into the well water, especially. The fracking process also uses a lot of water, which is another thing environmentalists are against. I also know what the process entails

*I need to learn where exactly this process is occurring in the country, and others. I need to learn why fracking companies believe that putting chemicals into the ground wouldn’t be harmful. I would like to learn how much water is injected for what return of gas. I need to know how much gas we have in our country and how long that will last if we continue at current and/or projected rates of consumption. I would love to learn what other things besides sand and water are being injected – I think there may be one state that requires this disclosure.

4. What is your stance on your topic—what you will be arguing with regard to your topic?

*My stance is essentially anti-fracking and pro-alternative energy methods. I would consider fracking, given higher standards and more regulations.

5. What oppositional or differing stances will you need to refute in your argument? How much do you know so far about why people might disagree with you?

*“Our nation relies on natural gas.”

*Rebuttal: There are numerous alternative methods

*Rebuttal: Our nation also relies on clean water

*”Fracking does not contaminate drinking water

*Rebuttal: tap water on fire

*Rebuttal: There are no regulations – how can we test?

*Fracking has low environmental impact

*Rebuttal: the fracking process injects chemicals, sand, and water deep into the earth

*Fracking is exempt from the Clean Water Act – WHAT?!

*Low cost

*Rebuttal: Profits go to natural gas companies, not local or national economies.

*Fracking creates jobs

*Rebuttal: So does clean energy production

*Rebuttal: The jobs are temporary

6. What kinds of research do you intend to gather? Why?

*Water contamination research in the various areas fracking occurs vs doesn’t occur because proof is needed to make a viable argument in regards to drinking water being contaminated

*What kinds of contaminants are going into our nations soil and potentially ending up in our water?

*Social aspects research – how fracking affects locals and state/local governments. I feel this is important not only since my major is in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and therefore this is highly applicable, but also because it is the people that have the power. What they have to say may affect future development.

*An answer to why fracking companies will not disclose what they are injecting into the earth.

7. Who is your target audience? Why have you chosen this group to address?

*I think the best target audience is the American population, ages 25-33 (though limited by who will read). I fall in this age demographic and feel that a lot of my peers do not understand or even know about fracking. A lot of this demographic has graduated college, but not continued on to further their education. I feel that as a natural resource and non-traditional student, myself, I know a lot more than my demographic cohorts when it comes to the subject of hydraulic fracturing. We are the up-and-coming generation of decision-makers and need to be informed on topics affecting our only planet.

8. What kinds of agency does this audience have with regard to your topic? How does this audience have agency with regard to your group’s message/purpose?

*We are a voting demographic

*This audience uses and is therefore affected by natural gas.

*This demographic is technologically savvy and therefore can spread messages quickly and effectively in a multimodal world.

*This demographic may be more environmentally concerned.

9. What are some possible limitations and opportunities posed by your rhetorical situation? Consider the requirements of the assignment, the publication medium, your topic, your research, your past work on this topic, etc.


*There will probably not be many people reading my paper

*Lack of available information

*Lack of research


*Voter turnout/reaction can become anti-fracking

*Regulations on the industry


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