The effects of chemical fracking on Wyoming’s natural environment

Information gathered: 2017, edited and published: 2019

Life without the oil and gas industry might look much different than the world we know today. In 2016, the United States consumed 27 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to power everything from residential houses to commercial buildings. As it relates to the state of Wyoming, the oil and gas industry provides major economical benefits as well as providing energy to many. However, as necessary as these commodities are to sustain modern life, the methods that are used to extract and gather oil and gas aren’t exactly sustainable or healthy for surrounding environments, water quality and air quality.

One of the main methods of retrieving these materials is hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. Fracking is the process of sending a mixture of immense amounts of water, sand and some chemicals into an oil or gas well, and sending a short but aggressive pulse through the material to crack the rock, and create flow pathways for the wanted materials, according to a 2015 BBC article. 

I sat down with Director of the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center, Peter Stahl and he provided some insight into the world of fracking. 

“I used to live in Oklahoma for four years in college, and never once experienced an earthquake. After they started doing all that injection of water into the subsurface, I went for a professional society meeting [recently], and the first night I’m sleeping in a hotel, in Oklahoma City, I got woken up in the middle of the night by an earthquake,” said Stahl.  

As seen in Stahl’s testimony, the use of hydraulic fracking has had some lasting effects on the geology of Oklahoma. If the environment of Oklahoma has been effected by processes of collection in such a short time, it only makes sense that the state of Wyoming would have just as many issues considering Wyoming produces more oil and gas consistently than Oklahoma.

Just like every other controversial issue, there are opinions on either side of the spectrum. I spoke with David Taylor, professor of applied economics in the agricultural department at the University of Wyoming to find out his opinions on the industry as a whole.

“The positive side [of the industry] is it creates jobs, good paying jobs. Lots of tax revenue, oil and gas and minerals is about 70 percent of our operating tax revenue [in the state].” 

In addition to economics, the effectiveness of fracking also intrigues some people. 

“My opinion is it’s absolutely effective.” said Mark Northam, Executive Director of the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources “We have some of the lowest gasoline and diesel prices in the world because we are pretty much self-sufficient in producing our own oil [in Wyoming].” 

On the other side of the argument however, are lobbyists and environmental groups who are concerned about the effects of the oil and gas industries on Wyoming’s environment. Their concerns are mainly rooted in the water quality around drilling sites, but are also concerned with the air quality as well, according to Melissa Horton’s 2015 article.

Image from: Salt Lake Tribune

However, the most worrisome part of this whole industry is how companies are allowed to keep the public essentially in the dark when it comes to their techniques. The companies that utilize this technique to get resources from the ground, are not required to disclose the information about what chemicals are going into the ground, unless there is a legal issue involving said companies, as seen on the EPA’s website under regulations on hydraulic fracturing. As a resident of Wyoming, this should be very concerning because underneath your feet, and right near the water you drink, there are mysterious chemicals being pumped into the ground at alarming rates. 

“I think if you’re putting stuff into everybody’s environment, it should be fully disclosed. It’s the same thing, genetically modified foods, you should be able to read the package and know what you’re buying,” said Stahl.

There have been a number of court cases filed against oil and gas companies, for the contamination of water wells on their property. Often times, these cases are settled quickly, as companies attempt to cover up the issues to a certain extent, so they can continue to drill, make money, and provide resources.

There have been some instances in Wyoming where some residents’ wells needed to be capped off and shut down due to the contamination being so bad, as seen in Josh Fox’s Gasland documentary. The shutdown of these wells leaves citizens without a reliable source of water, a problem within a problem. 

Usually, in these types of situations, something was done incorrectly.

“If done correctly, it is 100 percent safe. Where there have been problems is, first of all, when operators were learning to use this technology, or if they take shortcuts,” said Northam.

Regardless, when dealing with these harmful chemicals, workers need to be absolutely sure that they are doing everything correctly, by the book, and in accordance with the law. However, the problem will seemingly only continue to grow as in 2018, more than 10,000 applications for oil and gas permits were filed. In just the state of Wyoming. With this amount of applications, there are bound to be more rigs built, more drilling occurring, and more chemicals being put into the environment.

The United States has proven itself to be one of the most gluttonous countries when it comes to the use of oil and gas. Because of this overuse and exploitation of natural resources, methods to extract these materials that are harmful to the environment are very prevalent. One of the largest parts of Wyoming’s economy is the oil and gas industry, and as a result, Wyoming’s environment is suffering. 



Mark Northam, School of Energy Resources Director, face-to-face interview 11/13/17

David Taylor, Professor/Extension Specialist in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, face-to-face interview, 11/20/17

Peter Stahl, Director of Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center, face-to-face interview, 11/20/17

Background Sources

Horton, M. (2015, January 19). What are the effects of fracking on the environment? Retrieved from, Investopedia

Fox, J. (Director). (2010). Gasland[Motion picture]. USA: HBO.

Natural Gas Extraction – Hydraulic Fracturing. (2016, December 30). Retrieved from EPA

What is fracking and why is it controversial? (2015, December 16). Retrieved from BBC

Conceptual Language Usage from L’Orange and Kool Keith

The thought of conceptual metaphors is elusive, and ever present. What does this mean? Each and every day humans make sense of the reality around them by creating these metaphors. Not the type of metaphors seen in poetry where authors compare one thing to another, although similar, very different things apply to conceptual metaphors. Conceptual metaphors strive to make sense of reality by linking a concrete object (source domain) to an abstract idea (target domain) in order to better understand said abstract idea. In addition to the conceptual metaphors, we often see larger, more encompassing types of metaphors in something referred to as a general metaphor. These include subjects such as STATES ARE EMOTIONS, PURPOSES ARE DESTINATIONS, EVENTS ARE ACTIONS, and GENERIC IS SPECIFIC. Now, these general metaphors can be identified through a few different types of things including image metaphors and metonymies. With the combination of all these parts of language, we see a shape of what everyday language is and how it is created. However, even though these concepts are seen and heard in everyday life, the idea of them is elusive because it is so engrained in people’s lives that they rarely realize precisely what they are accomplishing. Even more so, these metaphors are seen in music performances. In the rest of this paper, I will discuss and analyze the conceptual metaphors found in a collaborative album from two members of the Mello Music Group, L’Orange and Kool Keith. 


-Indefinite-Can have a purpose, can also be haphazard
-Irreversible-Once done, cannot be undone
-Sequences-Happens in a certain order
-Quantifies rates of change-A change that can be quantified
-Imaginary-Concrete event

The second track on this album titled, “The Traveler”, embodies the conceptual metaphor of TIME IS MOTION.  This conceptual metaphor is seen in many lyrics through the album, however, in The Traveler specifically, the lyric goes, 

My time travel existence is a slight mission/Moving the courses/Changing the vision/Adjusting through the weather reactions/See the cerebrum, how fast I’m passing/Every thought is a different action

He speaks about time travel and also touches on how fast he is moving, thus, making it clear that TIME IS MOTION. Even on a smaller scale, the idea of traveling through time makes it apparent that you can move about in time, which is a concept. Time is not a concrete thing, which is why Kool Keith has to assign a target domain of moving through this time in order for the concept to make sense. If this target domain was not assigned or universally understood, the idea of moving through something that does not exist would seem completely irrational.

A little later in the same track, we see another example of this conceptual metaphor. This time from a featured artist, J-Live. He says;

I’m a travelling man/Moving through space and time most definitely/Since I was a little bush baby/Had to jump back and pinch myself/Timeless cuteness

            Here we see an example of how explaining a concept such as time in a way that people will understand the point, it makes it much easier to comprehend such abstract topics. The motion he talks about through space and time, make it clear his objective is to prove that time is something that can be moved through just the way you move through a room. However, at the end of the lyric we see something different. Still pertaining to the idea that TIME IS MOTION, but in a different sense. It shows that a feature of someone or something cannot be changed or altered through the motion of time itself. Meaning, that even though time has moved forward, the cuteness as he refers to, has stayed the same. 

            An image metaphor presents itself here as he refers to himself in a childlike form to present a sort of innocence. This is an image metaphor because it paints a mental image for listeners that this man who is speaking on very serious topics becomes a child in their minds, making it easier for the message to be received. 

            Overarching this entire idea that TIME IS MOTION is a much larger, more general metaphor of GENERIC IS SPECIFIC. What this means is that, by using generic terms such as time and motion, a more specific conclusion can be reached. The way it’s seen in these lyrics is specifically showing how the power of an elusive concept like time can be used to define things like how moving through time in a more palatable manner. 


-Goals, purpose for travelling-Destinations
-Unexpected life events-Detours
-Things that slow or stop you-Roadblocks
-Something that weighs on you and you must carry-Bags
-Milestones-Road signs
-Method of gaining progress-Modes of transportation

Within the album, we don’t see many examples of the conceptual metaphor of LIFE IS A JOURNEY, as this is an album that speaks on the concept of time a lot. However, in the track, Days I used to know, it bares its face. The lyric delivered by L’Orange goes;

His rocket ship in heading/In the general direction of Earth isn’t it/Sure/Have yourself looking at the view/And turn the radio scope on/All by looking one way forward window/No socket am talkin by me/Have I ever led you to the work of navigation

This one is a little difficult to see and we can’t look at it in parts, instead as a whole. We 

see L’Orange talking about a destination, even asking an entity if he has ever led them astray. This lyric does not necessarily touch on the journey in and of itself, however it mostly focuses on the destination that L’Orange is talking about. With any destination however, there must be a journey to get there. That is why it is inferred that this represents LIFE IS A JOURNEY.

            Also in this lyric there is an example of an image metaphor. L’Orange is speaking like he is in a spaceship, which represent the mode of transportation on this journey. It is an image metaphor because of the fact that the best way to describe the scene and how difficult this journey the entity and himself are on. 

The larger general metaphor that represent the conceptual metaphor of LIFE IS A JOURNEY is PURPOSES ARE DESTINATIONS. As a good rule of thumb, general metaphors are easier to understand and explain, so in order to understand life as a journey, we first have to understand that PURPOSES ARE DESTINATIONS. Lives are a purposeful thing, as they all have a destination or at least a path to that destination. So, inevitably, LIFE IS A JOURNEY that has a purpose simply because of the fact it has a destination at the end, in the middle, or at any point within. 


-Conducive to an end-Symbolizes the end of a life
-Imaginary concept-An imaginary symbol for death
-Irreversible-Symbolizes an irreversible part of life
-Quantifies change-A change in life that is quantifiable
-Indefinite-Never know when the reaper will come

            The next track on the album, titled Twenty Fifty-Three,holds yet another example of the concept that TIME IS A REAPER and it comes from yet another featured artist on the album, Mr. Lif. Within his verse he has the set of lines;

I move from 1823 to 2053 casually/Time creates casualties, actually/Whether the great plague, or your homie Bruce with the fake leg/Karma-kaze bomb but time moves on

In this lyric, Mr. Lif is speaking about how time takes away lives. This is very obviously 

the metaphor that TIME IS A REAPER. In a certain sense, time is a reaper because as time passes, the older people get, the closer they get to death, which the reaper symbolizes. However, in this lyric, it is approached differently than this. He is comparing time to things like the plague, and kamikazes, which are very sudden, harsh ways of dying. This proves that time is indefinite because in comparing the end of time to a sudden death, it’s very unexpected and is very hard to define when it will happen. Not the main conceptual metaphor, but I feel as though it should be mentioned that this lyric also touches on the metaphor of TIME IS MOTION with the very last section when he says, “time moves on”.

            The overarching general metaphor that aligns with the conceptual metaphor of TIME IS A REAPER is obviously EVENTS ARE ACTIONS. I say this because EVENTS ARE ACTIONS most often represent the personification of things in order to make sense of an abstract concept. The event that has action being placed on it is time and the reaper is that action. The reaper comes to take time away from an individual, thus putting the action on the event of time. It gets a little confusing when thinking about personifying the reaper, which is also a constructed, abstract idea, however, in relation to time, it is very concrete as it has a face and a figure and time is merely a thought and a very abstract concept. 


            This is a conceptual metaphor not listed by Lakoff and Turner. I tailored this one because I feel as though it is accurate in the way people speak about negative things. When something is beneath you, it is inherently not as good as you, thus negative. 

-Not on the same level-Not as good as something else
-Where the devil resides-Negative things are referred to as “the devil”
-Dark-Not presented in a bright way
-Lower in position -A lower standard
-Usually covered by something-Overshadowed by more “positive” things

            As far as the L’Orange and Kool Keith album, we can see an example of this in the song Twenty Fifty Three when Kool Keith says; 

Satan try to hide pull the top off a man hole/I’ll show you where the devil is

            In this line, he is saying that both the devil and Satan reside below the ground, explained by the manhole portion of the line. Another intricacy found here is that Satan is a negative entity and that he will introduce the person he is talking to throughout the verse to the devil beneath the surface in order to show him what is really bad. Since he has to put this person underneath of him in a sense, he views this individual as negative, or not up to the standards of Kool Keith. 

            An image metaphor that is found here is the manhole part. It is a much more creative way of saying that beneath the ground lies a negative place where this individual belongs. Everyone knows that a manhole cover leads underground so he doesn’t have to explain why the negative part of the world is in a manhole. 

            Also, with this metaphor, a general metaphor makes itself known. STATES ARE LOCATIONS best applies here as things that are negative (the state) are beneath other things (the location)

            In the duration of the album, Time? Astonishing!, by Mello Music Group’s L’Orange and Kool Keith, there are many instances where a conceptual metaphor resides within a general metaphor, allowing listeners to understand the intricacies of their lyrics and the message they wish to convey. While these thoughts are complex when analyzed, in day to day life, in casual listens to the album, these things are second nature and just make sense without much effort being placed in said thoughts. A combination of these two types of different metaphors and the usage of image metaphors, L’Orange and Kool Keith bring together an album full of dense imagery that tell a fantastic tale of what they believe time represents and what it means to them. 


Study of Conceptual Metaphors from L’Orange and Jeremiah Jae

The thought of conceptual metaphors is elusive, and ever present. What does this mean? Each and every day humans make sense of the reality around them by creating these metaphors. Not the type of metaphors seen in poetry where authors compare one thing to another, although similar, very different things apply to conceptual metaphors. Conceptual metaphors strive to make sense of reality by linking a concrete object (source domain) to an abstract idea (target domain) in order to better understand said abstract idea. Even though these concepts are seen and heard in everyday life, the idea of a conceptual metaphor is elusive because it is so engrained in people’s lives that they rarely realize precisely what they are accomplishing. Even more so, these metaphors are seen in music performances. In the rest of this piece, I will discuss and analyze the conceptual metaphors found in a collaborative album from two members of the Mello Music Group, L’Orange and Jeremiah Jae’s 2015 project, The Night Took Us in Like Family.

Do My Best to Carry On

The first track I’ll analyze is the second cut off the album entitled, “Do My Best to Carry On”. The first conceptual metaphor we see in this song is EMOTION IS A PHYSICAL FORCE. In the lyrics:

I’ll do my best to carry on, I hope somebody up there loves me

These two short bars show that EMOTION IS A PHYSICAL FORCE because L’Orange is stating that he will continue to move forward (another conceptual metaphor we’ll see later), despite the fact that his emotions are attempting to hold him back, proving the physical force that emotions use. It’s obvious he is speaking on emotions because the very next line is, “I hope somebody up there loves me.” 

can hold you back or move you forwarda bad emotion can feel restraining
moves objectsmoves people into making certain decisions
can create frictionemotions can create a friction or tension in relationships
force of nature; waves or thundercan be felt deep within, within the heart, the mind

Taken by the Night

Taken by the night is the next track up. The title itself is a metaphor, DEATH IS NIGHT. If we listen to the song, we hear a major theme throughout is death, so the title is a word of caution, warning listeners to not fall victim to the night (death).

darkdeath is often seen as a dark thing, no more light, turning off a switch
end of the daydeath can be viewed as the end of a day cycle, creating a sense of nighttime
time for resta common saying is “Rest in Peace”

Next, we have a combination of two metaphors from the same song, again, relating to death. The lyrics are as follows;

When the sky turns black, that’s when he’s back on the road, for sure

Here, the two metaphors at play use each other to make sense of the phrases used. The first being, again, DEATH IS NIGHT as I covered previously, and second, LIFE IS A JOURNEY. The second one is seen in the second half of the lyric referring to a road. Of course, no journey is complete without a road of some sorts. 

RoadsChoices made
DetoursUnexpected life events
DestinationsGoals, purpose
RoadblocksThings that slow or stop the journey
Road signsMilestones

All I Need (feat. Gift of Gab)

In this song, yet again, only one conceptual metaphor makes itself very apparent. POLITICS IS WAR is demonstrated in the lyrics:

Even when corruption blow up like napalm, don’t attempt to be a hero, slow down and stay calm people

Now, to understand this one, the lyrics need to be taken in in context. In this verse, Gift of Gab (the featured artist) is speaking on the corruption of politics and his personal views on police brutality in America. Due to the nature of his words, he views politics as a war referring to war techniques like napalm. This one is interesting because it is not directly referring to politics, but rather the effect of corrupt politics as the artist sees. 

an everlasting battlea battle with many casualities
generally 2 sidedbipartisan politics
a goal in mind for each sideattempting to run agendas
a winner when the smoke clearswinners declared by laws and policies

Kicking Glass

A very common theme throughout the entirety of this album is death. We see another example in the song “Kicking Glass” with the metaphor that DEATH IS SLEEP. Very similar to DEATH IS NIGHT, however there are a few key differences. Sleep and death are related in different manners that night and death are. Night provides an end, much like death, but sleep is a lighter way of speaking on the subject of death. We see this in the lyric:

Caught you greasy, believe me there won’t be a next time, if it was me you’d be sleeping where the pets are

Here, we see L’Orange threatening an unnamed entity that he is speaking to throughout the entire verse. He threatens this entity with death, but in a manner that is lighter than blatantly mentioning death itself. Sleep provides the source, so the listener can fully understand the target domain of death and recognize the power behind this threat. 

eyes closed, unconscious stateconsciousness has left the body
a close to the daylife is often referred to as a day, with death being the end to that day
peace, restfulagain, common phrasing such as rest in peace
inevitable, each night your body requires you to sleepdeath for everyone is an inevitable, unavoidable thing

Ignore the Man to Your Right

In this song, a new conceptual metaphor is being presented. GOOD IS THE RIGHT is what is seen here. This, meaning, subconsciously, humans associate things on their right side as being “good” and things on their left side as “bad”. With the lyric, 

Ignore the man to your right, it’s right in front of you, something you gotta earn, love it or let it burn 

Basically, in these lines, Jeremiah Jae is saying, don’t be focused on what’s to your right, the real problem is right in front of you. By ignoring what’s on your right, it’s showing that it’s a trustworthy place, or in other words, GOOD IS THE RIGHT. 

“right hand man”associated as a trustworthy person

Throughout the album created by L’Orange and Jeremiah Jae, we see many conceptual metaphors present themselves. The artists may have not realized precisely what they were achieving with using such language because it is so engrained in human culture, however, their lyrics are given much more meaning through the use of these symbols.