NEW YORK — A different kind of F-word is stirring a linguistic and political debate as controversial as what it defines.
The word is “fracking” — as in hydraulic fracturing, a technique long used by the oil and gas industry to free oil and gas from rock.
It’s not in the dictionary, the industry hates it, and President Barack Obama didn’t use it in his State of the Union speech — even as he praised federal subsidies for it.
The word sounds nasty to some, and environmental advocates have been able to use it to generate opposition — and revulsion — to what they say is a nasty process that threatens water supplies.
“It obviously calls to mind other less socially polite terms, and folks have been able to take advantage of that,” said Kate Sinding, a senior lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council who works on drilling issues.
Industry executives argue that the word is deliberately misspelled by environmental activists and that it has become a slur that should not be used by media outlets that strive for objectivity.
Even though we like to call it hydraulic fracturing in New Mexico, click here for more information.