A coalition of 55 investment firms and institutional investors is urging the shale gas industry to adopt best practices to clean up hydraulic fracturing, a controversial production technique used to release gas trapped in deep underground formations.
The group, which has nearly $1 trillion in assets under management, is spearheaded by Boston Common Asset Management, Investor Environmental Health Network and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
The coalition published Extracting the Facts: An Investor Guide to Disclosing Rosks from Hydraulic Operations, which outlines 12 recommended goals, practices and indicators for the shale gas industry. The guide encourages extraction companies to manage risks transparently and at the board level; reduce their surface footprint; assure well integrity; reduce and disclose all toxic chemicals; protect water quality through rigorous monitoring; prevent contamination from wastewater; minimize emissions; prevent contamination from solid waste; secure community consent and disclose fines, penalties and litigation.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, requires drillers to pump millions of gallons of water underground at high pressures, along with sand and chemicals. The pressure cracks shale deposits and releases the gas.
The coalition was spurred into action by growing shareholder unrest, the spread of fracking bans and moratoriums and the industry’s inconsistent practices, which make it difficult for investors to make informed choices.
For instance, Royal Dutch Shell has estimated that two-fifths of its New York acreage could be off-limits due to pending rules on fracking in the state. And while some in the industry have voluntarily disclosed the chemicals used in fracking, there is no systematic reporting on risk management and reduction, making it difficult for investors to evaluate energy companies that produce shale gas.
Picture credit: Chesapeake Energy