In early May, Dr. Susan Brantley, a Professor of Geosciences and Director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Pennsylvania State University, sparked new interest (and reignited controversy) in the debate over the impacts of shale gas development, often referred to as fracking. Dr. Brantley, along with environmental consultant Garth Llewellyn and six other co-authors published a study in the scientific journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that included the finding that several residential water wells in Pennsylvania were likely contaminated by nearby shale drilling activity. The study was significant because it showed strong evidence, perhaps the strongest to date, that ...> Read more
We have extended the deadline to comment on the draft EO100 for Shale Oil and Gas, the first independent standards for responsible fracking, to May 31st!
In just two months since the initial publication of our draft shale standards, new evidence has emerged linking shale development activities to groundwater contamination, hazardous air pollution, and earthquakes. Our draft EO100 for Shale Oil and Gas standards include provisions to address all three of those impact categories and many more.
Help us set the most rigorous and comprehensive standards ever for shale development and fracking by sending us your comments! No comment is too big or too small; too general or too specific; too positive or too negative.
We ...> Read more
Last week, EO Director of Communications and Director of Shale Programs Josh Garrett attended a meeting of sustainability and social impact professionals on best social and environmental practices for oil and gas and mining companies. The event, sponsored by Ethical Corporation, was called Responsible Extractives Summit - North America. The main themes of the gathering were transparency, sustainability and social engagement as approaches responsible operation. As a member of a three-person panel asked to discuss different strategies for reducing social risk, Garrett emphasized the merits of voluntary certification, in particular the credibility that comes from certification by an independent organization like EO. Speaking about the EO100 Standard, Garrett explained that it ...> Read more
Following its official request to Peruvian government agencies in December of last year, the indigenous group AIDESEP called a press conference to publicly advocate for the creation of an oil development policy based on the provisions of the EO100 Standard. Held at AIDESEP (Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon) headquarters in Lima on March 24, the press conference included presentations and announcements from the organization's president Hernderson Rengifo, Coordinator General of allied indigenous group COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin), and EO Co-Founder Manuel Pallares.
In addition to requirements for oil and gas developers operating in indigenous territories to ...> Read more
In December 2014, EO received a letter of complaint from the U.S.-based labor organization AFL CIO. Submission of the complaint, which alleged improper labor practices by certified site operator Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE), initiated an internal review, performed in accordance with EO Procedures for Certification System Comments, Complaints, and Appeals.
In January, we posted an update on the internal review process and planned responses to the concerns raised by the stakeholders. In March, EO received responses from PRE and from the assessment body that conducted the certification audit, Deloitte Colombia. You can download their statements here in English and Spanish:
EO continues to move forwards with planning local stakeholder outreach in conjunction with the verification audit planned for June/July 2015, including additional training ...> Read more
The growing trend of heightened consciousness of the social and sustainability implications of purchasing decisions along companies’ entire supply chains provides numerous opportunities for EO to engage with consumer stakeholders. EO supports this trend by raising awareness and encouraging ethical purchasing decisions by energy consumers (people and companies) of all types and sizes. An integral part of EO’s strategy is to create demand signals for responsibly produced oil and gas in an effort to encourage certification of extraction sites and/or the purchase of EO certificates. In addition to incentivizing better practices by oil and gas producers, informing consumers and encouraging their participation in the EO system increases consumers’ awareness of their connection to energy development impacts and the spectrum of development practices within the industry, from negligent to exemplary.
In support of those consumer participation goals, EO recently ...> Read more
Last week, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) issued new regulations for oil and gas operations that use hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on federal and Indian lands. The announcement came just four days after EO published its draft EO100 for Shale Oil and Gas standards, a supplement to the foundational EO100 Standard, for operations that use fracking. Both announcements were significant and novel steps toward making fracking operations safer for people and the environment, but each takes a unique approach and applies to a different scope of impacts from shale development and fracking. How are they alike and how are they different? We took an initial look at the DOI’s fracking rule (which ...> Read more
Say the word “fracking” to anyone who has heard it before, and you are likely to get a big reaction. To most, fracking is either the key to unlocking energy independence and an economic blessing or a pathway to public health disasters and irreversible environmental destruction. While both opinions contain a kernel of truth, neither is completely accurate. At EO, we view fracking and the shale development boom it is driving as realities of a new energy landscape that must be studied, monitored, and regulated in new and better ways. Most importantly, we believe fracking is in dire need of clear, effective, and independently-developed standards for social and environmental performance. That’s why we launched the public comment period on our draft EO100 ...> Read more
On March 4, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) hosted EO and guests for a screening of “Oil & Water,” panel discussion, and Q&A session. The event, Paying the True Price of Oil: Energy Environment, Community, and Corporate Responsibility drew a large audience and sparked productive and eye-opening discussions of energy development impacts and approaches to mitigating them around the world.
Panelists included Josh Fisher, Director of the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4), Lisa Sachs of the Columbia Center on Sustainable development and David Poritz, the President and Co-founder of EO. Ellen Morris, Adjunct Professor and Founding Partner of Embark Energy and Sustainable Energy Solutions, moderated the discussion. Steve Cohen, Executive Director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, kicked off the event with an introduction that emphasized the importance of working toward responsible development practices even as the world transitions away from fossil fuels.
At the core of the discussion were the issues of community engagement, investment as a tool for leveraging better development practices, and the notion of leveling the playing field in negotiations between companies and citizens. Josh Fisher evoked constructive dialogue by suggesting that in order to reach equitable outcomes in bargaining between local communities and extractive companies, it is essential to establish Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as well as social license(s) to operate. With regards to social impact investment, Lisa Sachs suggested that there are “lots of ‘ifs’ for investment to succeed at reducing [negative] impacts; but oil and gas is the sector with the biggest transformative potential.” Herein lies a thread at the heart of EO’s mission: informing investors about companies and sites that are harnessing that transformative potential. Sachs was keen to point out that social impact investors define sustainability to include “long-term holistic approach(s), that effectively manage impacts.”
In addition to investment as a lever to influence company behavior, Fisher noted that revenue and reputation are highly influential factors on internal decision-making ...> Read more
There are many different approaches that can be taken to reduce the negative social and environmental impacts of irresponsible oil and gas development in the Amazon and around the world, and combining them all is the best way to achieve positive results. That was the takeaway from Oil’s True Cost: Exploring Solutions, an event hosted by Equitable Origin in Oakland, California last week. The event kicked off on Thursday evening with a screening of “Oil and Water,” followed by Q&A with one of the film’s directors and its two subjects, and wrapped up with a discussion by a panel of experts. The purpose of the ...> Read more