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Shareowner Resolutions and a New EPA Study on Hydraulic Fracturing

SocialFunds.com reports today that the EPA will revisit the issue of hydraulic fracturing announcing that the EPA will conduct a new scientific study of the effects of the practice.  This is an acknowledgement on the EPA’s part of increased public concerns about the effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies.  Investors show concern also by filing shareholder resolutions with 12 companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing requesting that companies report on the environmental impact of fracturing operations. This only two days after  “Don’t Frack With Pittsburgh,” was the rallying cry outside the Pittsburgh City-County Building before a public hearing on Marcellus Shale drilling.

Last week I posted about Range Resources announcing their commitment to voluntary disclosures concerning hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale natural gas resource in Pennsylvania.  Monday night I was reminded what a heated debate the Marcellus Shale drilling continues to be for those most affected by the outcome of this discussion as I watched footage of drilling protesters on all the local evening news stations.  The overwhelming concern of protesters is that of health concerns caused by contaminated water and air due to hydraulic fracturing.

Today I was relieved to see investor and protestor concerns being addressed with EPA plans to initiate a new study on the effects of hydraulic fracturing.  The EPA has already insisted on a 30 day response from nine natural gas companies on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted.

However the study is planned to begin in early 2011 with initial study results available by late 2012.  What will be done in the meantime to protect those sites and communities already being drilled?  As one Pittsburgh protester suggested, shouldn’t we wait for results before any more hydraulic fracturing is undertaken?

Image Credit:  arimoore via Flickr under CC license.

Written by Emily DeMasi

Emily McKinin DeMasi is a 2011 MBA/ MA Public Policy candidate and Peace Corps Fellow at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her thesis work concerns Corporate Social Responsibility in the United States. She also works as a Research Fellow at Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in downtown Pittsburgh. Emily has worked as an Associate in a Private Equity Placement Firm in NY and as a Water and Sanitation Volunteer in Ivory Coast, West Africa. She hopes to combine her business background with her passion for development and inspire others in the fields of Sustainability and CSR.

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