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Social License to Drill

Social License to Drill

Full Title: Social License to Drill
Author(s): Mary Ellen Kustin and Kate Kell
Publisher(s): Center for American Progress
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

In April, Maryland became the second state after New York to ban hydraulic fracturing,
better known as fracking. This action may affect industry’s access to pockets of the
Marcellus Shale formation, one of the nation’s largest oil and gas plays.

One need look no further than to the numerous local ordinances banning fracking to realize
that absent public confidence in the regulatory system, the oil and gas industry can lose
its access quickly. Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar often said that unless common
standards exist to ensure that fracking of natural gas is done safely and responsibly,
the practice could become the “Achilles’ heel” of the nation’s domestic energy agenda.1

Salazar’s comment hit on a simple concept: The oil and gas industry—like any industry—must
have a social license to operate. Americans need a certain degree of trust that
the industry’s activities are relatively safe, that the costs and risks are being managed and
are acceptable, and that companies are following the rules.

Over the past six months, however, the Trump administration has launched an unprecedented
attack on the safeguards that protect the country’s clean air and water and ensure
balanced development on public lands that belong to all Americans. From abandoning
a rule to reduce methane pollution to proposing to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge, the new administration appears to be looking for every opportunity to cater
to the oil and gas industry. In fact, President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior
Ryan Zinke met with more oil and gas industry executives in his first four months on the
job than any other type of interest group.2

Executed under the chest-thumping banner of “energy dominance,” these deregulatory
actions may actually have the opposite effect. By systematically dismantling environmental
and safety protections, the Trump administration is putting the oil and gas industry’s social
license—and therefore the underpinnings of the industry itself—at risk.

This brief examines four areas where the Trump administration’s actions, through the
U.S. Department of the Interior, have the potential to kneecap the oil and gas industry
by eroding public trust.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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