REPORT - Disclosing the Facts: Transparency and Risk in Hydraulic Fracturing Operations
Companies across the board are failing to report reductions of their impacts on communities and the environment from hydraulic fracturing.
The oil & gas production industry is consistently failing to report measurable reductions of its impacts
on communities and the environment from hydraulic fracturing
operations, according to a scorecard report released by As You Sow,
Boston Common Asset Management, Green Century Capital Management, and
the Investor Environmental Health Network.
The report, Disclosing the Facts: Transparency and Risk in Hydraulic Fracturing Operations, benchmarks 24 companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing against investor needs for disclosure of operational impacts and mitigation efforts.
While scores varied, no firm succeeded in disclosing information on even half of the selected 32 indicators related to management of toxic chemicals, water and waste, air emissions, community impacts, and governance. Even the highest scoring company, Encana Corporation (ECA) provided sufficient disclosure on just 14 of the 32 indicators. The lowest scoring companies were: BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) (2 of out 32 indicators); BP plc (BP) (2 out of 32 indicators); Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) (2 out of 32 indicators); Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY) (2 out of 32 indicators); Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN) (2 out of 32 indicators); and, in last place, QEP Resources, Inc. (QEP) (1 out of 32 indicators).
The report notes that measurement and disclosure of best management practices and impacts is the primary means by which investors can assess how companies are managing the impacts of their hydraulic fracturing operations on communities and the environment.
Institutional investors have been pressing oil and gas companies since 2009 for greater disclosure of their risk management practices. Investors have engaged over two dozen companies, filing nearly 40 shareholder proposals on these issues to date. The shareholder proposals have led to improved disclosures at many of the companies, but the scorecard report notes that much of this disclosure is narrative and qualitative in form, while quantifiable data are lacking.
Read the full report here.
In Fracking Fight, a Worry About How Best to Measure Health Threats
In Pennsylvania, opponents of gas drilling say regulators are slow and unprepared in responding to air quality complaints.
There are more than 6,000 active gas wells in Pennsylvania. And every week, those drilling sites generate scores of complaints from the state’s residents, including many about terrible odors and contaminated water.
How the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection handles those complaints has worsened the already raw and angry divide between fearful residents and the state regulators charged with overseeing the burgeoning gas drilling industry.
For instance, the agency’s own manual for dealing with complaints is explicit about what to do if someone reports concerns about a noxious odor, but is not at that very moment experiencing the smell: “DO NOT REGISTER THE COMPLAINT.”
When a resident does report a real-time alarm about the air quality in or around their home, the agency typically has two weeks to conduct an investigation. If no odor is detected when investigators arrive on the scene, the case is closed.
Read the full report here.
Finger Lakes Winemakers to Cuomo: Ban Fracking in New York
The dangers of fracking are becoming increasingly well-known as study after study shows how it contaminates water -- a critical resource for our industries.
Fracking would jeopardize the safety of the water we rely on for producing our wine -- the same water relied upon by the beer industry and other farm-based beverage industries.
States have confirmed water contamination resulting from fracking, and recent scientific studies by three major American universities -- from three different states that permit fracking -- substantiate those dangers to water supplies.
That simply doesn't mix with brewing beer, producing wine or other beverages.
Read the full article here.
Fracking Exports Will Leave U.S. Communities in the Dark
Last month, thirty Senate Democrats -- members of the "climate caucus" -- stayed Up All Night on the Senate floor to speak out about climate change. This was an important moment to highlight the most critical environmental issue of our time.
What was not mentioned however, was the massive threat to our planet posed by exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) extracted through the increasingly controversial process known as "fracking." Yet legislation authored by one of their own -- Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and a House bill by Congressman Cory Gardner (R-CO), would tear down barriers to the export of LNG, potentially spurring a massive increase in fracking, exacerbating the problems the senators spoke out against.
Read more here.
Toward a better understanding and quantification of methane emissions from shale gas development
Significance: We identified a significant regional flux of methane over a large area of shale gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania in the Marcellus formation and further identified several pads with high methane emissions. These shale gas pads were identified as in the drilling process, a preproduction stage not previously associated with high methane emissions. This work emphasizes the need for top-down identification and component level and event driven measurements of methane leaks to properly inventory the combined methane emissions of natural gas extraction and combustion to better define the impacts of our nation’s increasing reliance on natural gas to meet our energy needs.
Read the publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.