“We Can't Be Dependent on Anybody”: The rhetoric of “Energy Independence” and the legitimation of fracking in Pennsylvania

Carlo E. Sica, Matthew Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Recent advances in hydraulic fracturing technology have reduced US dependence on oil imports, inspiring claims that “energy independence” is within reach. In this article we contest the construction of space that undergirds this notion of energy independence. Specifically, we find that the discourse of “energy independence” constructs the world as a struggle between territorial states. The geographical worldview of the energy independence script is made of territorial states as containers of bounded, exclusive, sovereignty, referred to by Agnew as the “territorial trap”. This obscures how international networks of commerce and investment rest on a basis of binding links of interdependence, cooperation and coproduction (1994). Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative evidence from Pennsylvania, we show how elites used notions of struggles between territorial powers to legitimate the infusion of international circuits of capital into local extractive zones. We find that the global network of investment that settled in Pennsylvania, with the goal of exporting gas as LNG, directly contradicted the spatial assumptions made by energy independence rhetoric. In making our argument we draw on evidence from interviews with elites within the fracking debate in Pennsylvania.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2017


  • Capitalism
  • Energy independence
  • Fracking
  • Natural gas
  • Territorial trap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Economic Geology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of '“We Can't Be Dependent on Anybody”: The rhetoric of “Energy Independence” and the legitimation of fracking in Pennsylvania'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this