AP: Gas Industry's Troubles Stem From Arrogance

  • Marie Cusick

Workers on a natural gas drilling rig near Towanda.

Reuters/Tim Shaffer/Landov

Workers on a natural gas drilling rig near Towanda.

The natural gas industry’s public relations issues stem partly from a lack of transparency, poor communication and overall arrogance, according to observers quoted in a recent Associated Press report:

“It’s a big issue for the industry. I have called for greater transparency. That is the only way to have an honest conversation with the public,” said John Hofmeister, a former Shell Oil Co. president and author of “Why We Hate Oil Companies.”
As an example, Mr. Hofmeister said, some industry leaders have suggested that the fracking boom has never caused water pollution. But while the vast majority of wells don’t cause problems, “everybody knows that some wells go bad.”

The article goes on to quote Penn State geologist Terry Engelder as saying some of the industry’s problems were due to inexperience, and that there will never be “risk-free” drilling in Pennsylvania.
Chevron CEO John Watson expressed similar sentiments last month at a conference in Washington D.C. He thinks the industry needs to do a better job engaging with the public.
“Public expectations are very high, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be high,” he said. “There are some risks out there. Some risks are overstated. But we have to engage them either way.”
Pennsylvania’s gas industry will soon have a new public spokesperson.
Last week Kathryn Klaber, CEO of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, announced she plans to step down after four years at the helm of the industry trade group.
A national search is underway to find her replacement.

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