The Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), two US-based coalitions of investors and organizations seeking to promote a socially and environmentally responsible economy, have released disclosure guidance for companies involved in shale gas extraction. The focus is on performance and risk management in hydraulic fracturing and related operations (e.g., water use and wastewater storage and disposal).
Titled Extracting the Facts: An Investor Guide to Disclosing risks from Hydraulic Fracturing Operations, the investor guide provides best practice recommendations to energy companies for reporting on and reducing risks and impacts from natural gas operations relying on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking”.
Pressure on companies to be more transparent is growing. In November 2011, a Subcommittee of the U.S. Department of Energy charged with identifying measures that could be taken to reduce the environmental impact and to help assure the safety of shale gas production “urge leading companies to adopt a more visible commitment to using quantitative measures as a means of achieving best practice and demonstrating to the public that there is continuous improvement in reducing the environmental impact of shale gas production.”¹ (Emphasis in original) The investor guide will help leading companies with shale gas operations in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere to demonstrate their commitment to transparency, risk mitigation and use of best practices across their shale gas extraction operations.
The investor guide contains goals, practices and indicators around the following twelve key issues:
1. Manage risks transparently and at the Board level;
2. Reduce surface footprint;
3. Assure well integrity;
4. Reduce and disclose all toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing;
5. Protect water quality by rigorous monitoring;
6. Minimize fresh water use;
7. Prevent contamination from waste water;
8. Minimize and disclose air emissions;
9. Prevent contamination from solid waste and sludge residuals;
10. Assure best-in-class contractor performance;
11. Secure community consent; and
12. Disclose fines, penalties and litigation.
Richard Liroff, Executive Director of IEHN, is the main author of the investor guide, which reflects input from both IEHN and ICCR staff and members currently engaging with companies in the shale gas industry. SHARE actively participated in the development of the document, which is supported by more than 40 organizations representing over $55 billion in assets under management.
For more information, see:
IEHN and ICCR, Extracting the Facts: An Investor Guide to Disclosing risks from Hydraulic Fracturing Operations (December 2011), http://iehn.org/documents/frackguidance.pdf
“Investors Release Best Practices Guidance for Safer Fracking: Call for deeper disclosures on community impacts for energy companies to earn license to operate,” ICCR-IEHN press release (13 December 2011),http://iehn.org/news.press.frackguidance12-13-11.php
“Investors Press Natural-Gas Drillers to Cut Fracking Risks,” by Jim Efstathiou Jr. ,Bloomberg, (13 December 2011), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-13/investors-press-natural-gas-drillers-to-cut-risks-from-fracking.html
¹ U.S. Department of Energy, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board – Shale Gas Production Subcommittee, Second ninety day report (18 November 2011), p. 9,http://www.shalegas.energy.gov/resources/111811_final_report.pdf