Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Transparency in Natural Gas Fracking: NOT!

Fracking Hazards Obscured in Failure to Disclose Wells By Benjamin Haas, Jim Polson, Phil Kuntz and Ben Elgin - Aug 14, 2012
 [Excerpted] Seeking to quell environmental concerns about the chemicals it shoots underground to extract oil and natural gas, Apache Corp. (APA) told shareholders in April that it disclosed information about “all the company’s U.S. hydraulic fracturing jobs” on a website last year. 

Actually, Apache’s transparency was shot through with cracks. In Texas and Oklahoma, the company reported chemicals it used on only about half its fracked wells via, a voluntary website that oil and gas companies helped design amid calls for mandatory disclosure. 

Energy companies failed to list more than two out of every five fracked wells in eight U.S. states from April 11, 2011, when FracFocus began operating, through the end of last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gaps reveal shortcomings in the voluntary approach to transparency on the site, which has received funding from oil and gas trade groups and $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy....

Majia here: This article reveals yet another example of the limitations of industry managed transparency.

Do not misunderstand: I'm all for transparency in industry and government.

The problem occurs when transparency is offered by an industry as a public relations panacea for public concern about pollution or other risks posed by the industry.

Industry "transparency" typically is NOT, in fact, transparent.

Transparency suffers when public health risks exist, when money is at issue, and when regulatory oversight is tied to self-reporting.

Fracking is not federally regulated and states vary considerably in their approach. 

Lots of money is involved with fracking and public health risks exist as water supplies are contaminated both by fracking fluid and by methane contamination.

I wrote an essay, "Transparency and Neoliberal Logics of Corporate Economic and Social Responsibility" examining the limits of corporate transparency for this book on social responsibility:

The Handbook of Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility (Handbooks in Communication and Media)

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