Investors are seeking action from the industry due to theincreasing level of uncertainty about the impacts of fracking onhuman health and the environment. Spreading moratoria and bans are compromising developmentprospects. Recent restrictions on the industry include a moratoriumon fracking in New York State. Shell has estimated that two-fifthsof its New York State acreage could be off-limits due to pendingrules on fracking in that state. The Delaware River Basin Commission has a moratorium in place andhas proposed regulations to protect water resources during thedevelopment and operation of natural gas projects.
The MarcellusShale formation underlies about 36 percent of the Delaware RiverBasin, which includes portions of New York, New Jersey,Pennsylvania and Delaware. The province of Quebec, Canada has imposed a fracking moratorium.Outright bans in France and Bulgaria. Chevron’s exploration licensein Bulgaria has been cancelled. The investors’s coalition says inconsistent practices are making itimpossible for investors to make informed choices. While somecompanies have voluntarily increased disclosures, particularlyaround chemicals used in fracking, there is no systematic reportingon risk management and reduction steps, which means investors maylack information critical to fully evaluating energy companiesengaged in shale gas extraction.
Investor concern is evident in the high levels of shareholder votessupporting requests for more fracking disclosure. In the 2010 and 2011 proxy seasons, 21 shareholder resolutions at16 companies received strong support, averaging 30 percent votes onsix resolutions going to votes in 2010, and an average 40 percentvotes on five resolutions voted on in 2011. Most of the remaining resolutions were withdrawn in the course ofdiscussions with companies, which either took positive action orpledged that they would do so in the near future. “We’re encouraging a corporate race to the top in adopting bestpractices,” said Richard Liroff, PhD, executive director, InvestorEnvironmental Health Network, one of the two organizations thatpublished “Extracting the Facts,” the best practices guide. “The best-practices guide backed by major investors offers bothcurrently achievable goals, such as minimizing fresh water use, andmore aspirational goals, such as virtually eliminating toxicchemicals from fracturing operations,” Liroff said. Articulated Boom Crane
“The guidecites practices that are already used by 17 companies. Manycompanies will save money and lower risks; providing business,environmental, and community benefits.” Sister Nora Nash is director of corporate social responsibilitywith Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, a member of theInterfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the otherorganization behind the guide. “Local communities have been seriously impacted by lifecycle ofshale gas fracturing,” she told reporters. China Telescopic Boom Truck Crane
“What is not known iswhether impacts are being adequately addressed by gas companies.” “We’ve heard all sorts of horror stories, but we’re still woefullyunder educated about this process. When adequate protections arenot in place, communities on the front lines clearly suffer.” “Shale gas companies must earn their social license by operating ina more responsible manner,” said Nash. “Companies must address thecommunity and environmental concerns prompting bans and moratoria.They must listen closely, respond sensitively, and account to bothinvestors and communities for their actions. Otherwise, this is anuncharted process of unwanted development that deprives communitiesof their rights and leads to litigation and loss of investorconfidence.” “As shareholders we ask our companies to extract all the factsbefore they drill,” she said. Heim said, “The investments we do want to make are in companiesthat have the better practices. Wrecker Tow Truck Manufacturer
We need more information fromcompanies about what they’re doing. These guidelines lay out thefacts that we need to know to invest.” Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.