New gas drilling dispute: Fracking or fracing?

The Marcellus Shale natural-gas industry has gotten tripped up by the F-bomb.

Not that word.

"Fracking has become almost a dirty word," said Brian McDermott, spokesman for Gregory FCA Communications, an Ardmore, Pa., public relations firm that has measured popular sentiments associated with various resource-extraction terms. It found fracking lacking, scoring even lower in positives than strip-mining.

Fracking, of course, is short for hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural-gas recovery process. The word -- harsh, threatening and vaguely profane -- has become a linguistic weapon in the shale-gas culture wars.

The fracas over fracturing will be on full display in Philadelphia this week as the Marcellus Shale Coalition holds a two-day conference to promote the industry.

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