New Socially and Environmentally Responsible Fracking Standards
By James Griffitts, Contributor
The first independent social and environmental standards for shale oil and gas fracking operations have been published and the developers are looking for public feedback.
Equitable Origin is a non-partisan organization. Founded in 2009, Equitable Origin is currently the only independent standards and certification program exclusively focused on fossil fuels. The organization’s mission is “to protect the people, the environment, and biodiversity affected by oil and gas exploration and production through an independent, stakeholder-negotiated, market-driven certification system that distinguishes and rewards operators for outstanding social, environmental and safety performance.”
While the standards will be voluntary, they are designed to reduce environmental risks of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and allow transparency and shareholder involvement. The goal of these new standards is to ensure that current and future fracking operations are conducted in a safe, accountable fashion, allowing producers to extract fossil fuels in a way which protects the environment and benefits local communities.
The new standards are undergoing a period of public comment and individuals and organizations are invited to share their input in order to clarify the standards and address potential weaknesses. The public comment period will end on May 15, 2015, at which point Equitable Origin will begin final consultations with experts in human rights, ecology, community development, and other fields relevant to the new standards. Using information gathered from public input and expert consultations, a final set of standards will be complied and used by certified inspectors.
These standards will help investors and the general public to assess the social
and environmental impact of fracking. This will be a welcome move to many investors who are increasingly dissatisfied with the current opaque nature of oil and gas companies’ fracking operations.
Though the standards are voluntary, compliant companies are more likely to be attractive to investors in a world where responsible business and investing is becoming a force not to be ignored. Being compliant is also a good move in public relations terms, as many communities are becoming concerned that fracking is damaging public health. Equitable Origin’s new standards may well become dominant across the oil and gas industry.
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Posted: April 17, 2015