An issue of increasing concern to shareholders and society at large has been hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) – a controversial method of drilling for natural gas and oil. Fracking refers to a process of injecting a mixture of water, chemicals, and particles underground at high pressure to create fractures in the ground through which oil and gas flows for collection. Investors, regulators, and communities are concerned about both the environmental and health impacts of this process as well as the potential for the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere.
Disclosing the Facts
As You Sow, along with partners Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) and Boston Common Asset Management, began publishing a scorecard called Disclosing the Facts in 2013, establishing a benchmark for measurement and disclosure of best management practices for hydraulic fracturing companies across five issue areas: chemicals, water, air, community impacts, management & accountability.
Disclosing the Facts has proven to be an effective tool for holding a spotlight on fracking companies and encouraging them to improve their practices and disclosures. Disclosing the Facts 2017 is a special report focused on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
The potential harms associated with hydraulic fracturing and the production of shale oil and gas are many. Impacts include: above- and below-ground water pollution from fracking chemicals; the creation of millions of gallons of toxic waste water which has to be stored, moved, and disposed of; air pollution associated with trucks, pumps, and other machinery; depletion of drinking water stores; release of methane; environmental disturbance and damage; and community impacts including strained social services, increased crime, traffic gridlock, road damage, and noise among others.
Since 2010, As You Sow has been engaging companies and filing shareholder resolutions to increase adoption and disclosure of best management practices related to hydraulic fracturing operations. Our Initial resolutions focused on disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations and helped move the industry to create a site called FracFocus which provides information on toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Our current resolutions seek transparency and quantitative disclosure about how the Company manages and measures impacts associated with shale oil & gas production.