Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2018


WVU College of Law


Americans are experiencing a communication crisis in public policy-a crisis that has become especially acute since the November 2016 elections. Research shows that Americans increasingly treat their policy views as constitutive of their identities and separate themselves from other groups based on these identities. New solutions are needed in the lawmaking process to soften participants' hardening of their own identities and negative characterizations of other groups. This Article studies one controversy that has proven to be entrenched, if not yet intractable, in many jurisdictions: hydraulic fracturing. The Article examines advances made by scholars of conflict resolution and peace and conflict studies in the late 20th and early 21st centuries that focus on dialogue and softening of frames to move entrenched conflicts towards resolution. Based on this case study of the legislative and regulatory snarl over hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, the Article proposes a new process, marshaled by a Special Committee for Public Policy Dialogue, that would implement the insights of peace and conflict studies researchers allowing the legal system to address and move past identity-based conflicts that threaten to bring lawmaking to a standstill.

Original Publication Title

University of Pittsburgh Law Review

Source Citation

79 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 437



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