Communities working to stop a controversial gas drilling process are getting what sounds like encouragement from an unlikely source: a report prepared for the oil and gas industry on the risks posed by those communities themselves. Even more bizarre than a risk assessment about grassroots activists is one that basically admits the activists are right.
Control Risks, the global risk and strategic consulting firm that conducted the report, calls itself “independent,” but it makes its alliances clear in the first few sentences. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could bring “a golden age of cheap, plentiful energy for a resource-constrained world,” writes senior global issues analyst Jonathan Wood, “but only if it makes it out of the ground.”
Entitled “The Global Anti-Fracking Movement: What It Wants, How It Operates, and What’s Next,” the 2012 report uses the term “battlegrounds” to describe more than thirty countries on six continents where the issue of fracking is being debated. Its warnings about the dangers of ignoring the anti-fracking movement were likely a motivator behind last week’s so-called truce between four gas companies and a handful of environmental groups in the Appalachian Basin. Shell, Chevron, CONSOL Energy, and EQT Corporation joined with the Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Task Force, and a few others to form the Center for Sustainable Shale Development. The Center will monitor the 15 environmental standards for fracking agreed upon by the alliance and will certify drilling operations that voluntarily comply with the standards.