Phillips takes top honor in ninth Earth Day Essay Contest

Release Date: 5/5/2014

Matthew Phillips' essay titled "The Devastating Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing" took first place in the ninth annual University of the Ozarks Earth Day Essay Contest. The contest took place throughout April and judging was held last week.

Phillips is a concurrent high school student from Booneville, Ark. 

According to Dr. Brian Hardman, associate professor of English and essay contest organizer, a total of 21 essays were entered this year, one of the largest totals in the history of the competition.

The judges, Ms. Debbie Eldridge, office manager for the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts; Dr. Fiona Murphy, assistant professor of English; Dr. Doug Jeffries, professor of biology and environmental studies, and Doug Denne, resource librarian, read through the 21 essays submitted in this year's contest. They ultimately selected Phillips' essay as winner of the Workman Award ($400).

In his essay, Phillips writes, "Hydraulic fracturing has boosted the economy in Arkansas. But at what cost? ... Fracking is extremely damaging to the environment; in fact, it is probably the largest threat to the environment in Arkansas. It wastes massive amounts of water by lacing water with toxic chemicals and contaminating groundwater supplies. To transport water to the drilling sites, trucks must carry it. These trucks burn great amounts of diesel, thereby releasing carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere. The gas wells often leak methane and other greenhouse gases. Hydraulic fracturing techniques such as venting and flaring release even more harmful gases into the air. To prevent this devastation, hydraulic fracturing should be banned. Even though it is extremely lucrative, it will not bring in enough money to purchase a new planet. Arkansas's environment will continue to be damaged as long as Fayetteville Shale allows fracking." (Read "The Devastating Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing.")

Other winning essays were:

The University extends a special "Thank You" to Dr. Wayne and Betty Workman for their generosity in once again providing funding for the Earth Day essay contest awards. The Workmans have sponsored the contest each year since it began in 2006.