President Obama should gather energy companies, environment groups, scientists and state governors to form a commission charged with examining fracking risks and regulations, and recommending nationwide best practices, according to former state department official Robert Manning, writing for GE’s Ideas Lab.
Such an effort would not be hard or expensive, or require action from Congress, but would help to address the uncertainty and ad hoc regulations that threaten the hydraultic fracturing industry, says Manning, a senior fellow of the Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security at the Atlantic Council and its Strategic Foresight Initiative.
Manning argues that the use of best practices can address most environmental concerns, such as methane leaks, methane flaring and water contamination.
He notes that increasingly, companies and non-profits are collaborating to address their interests: for example, Colorado has approved controls on emissions from oil and gas wells, spurred by joint effort from energy firms and environmental groups.
Last year, companies and environmentalists co-founded the Center for Sustainable Shale Gas Development, which is trying to create voluntary standards to reduce fracking’s environmental impacts.
But state and local laws create a patchwork of regulations, and this must be addressed to gain wider public acceptance for fracking, Manning says.
Takeaway: Further collaboration between energy companies and non-profits could help the industry develop while lowering its environmental impacts.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.
Picture credit: Tim Evanson via flickr