It’s hard to go a day without seeing fracking in the news. For a sense of how expansively this issue has captured our collective attention one need look no further than the almost parallel actions last month by the Texas House and the French government, not to mention the activist rappers.
For those who haven’t been following these stories, fracking is a process that injects pressurized fluids into shale formations to crack the rock and forcibly release the previously locked up natural gas.
I must confess that I too have contributed to this reportage. The premise of my piece focused on the need and opportunity for the industry to be proactive and address the concerns associated with fracking – think groundwater contamination from natural gas, potentially harmful components of the pressurized fluids injected, and even more significant GHG emissions -- as a way to demonstrate leadership and to capitalize on this potentially vast, untapped resource.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that failing to lead boldly and set a sustainable tone in the fracking industry, will not only harm oil and gas companies’ reputations, but also weaken investor confidence. Just last week shareholder resolutions, calling for increased fracking transparency and risk management, gained 41% and 28% support at Chevron and ExxonMobil respectively.
Rather than devoting energy and resources to challenging these efforts from investors, legislators, and regulators, why not take a leadership position? It would behoove the industry to build on their initial commitments and embrace these increasing shareholder demands for transparent risk-mitigating fracking practices. Isn’t such leadership just common sense, and prudent strategy, for a 21st century business?