But the issue of whether or not to exploit Scotland’s reserves of underground shale gas is much more important than a word. It is hard not to feel sympathy with the industry’s public relations executives as they struggle to avoid the term, talking about hydraulic fracturing instead.
The long and tortured arguments over fracking in Scotland are now coming to a head. The Scottish Government has published six expert reports, launched a four-month public consultation, and is promising to take “a final decision by the end of 2017”.
The companies that want to drill for onshore gas and their political backers, the Conservative Party, are embroiled in a fight to the finish with their opponents: environmentalists, local communities, Scottish Greens and the Labour Party. The outcome, with the SNP as judge and jury, is difficult to predict.
The technology they are talking about is a method of drilling between one and three kilometres under the ground to extract tiny pockets of shale gas trapped in rock. Water, sand and chemicals would be pumped down wells and injected under pressure to fracture the rock and release the gas.