PNS Daily Newscast - April 19, 2019 

A look at some of the big takeaways from the release of the redacted Mueller report. Also, on our Friday rundown: Iowa recovers from devastating floods and prepares for more. And, scallopers urged to minimize the threat to seagrass.

Daily Newscasts

Investor Groups: Fracking Companies Need More Public Disclosure

A scorecard assembled by investor groups faults natural gas producers for secrecy about fracking risks. (Environmental Defense Fund)
A scorecard assembled by investor groups faults natural gas producers for secrecy about fracking risks. (Environmental Defense Fund)
December 31, 2015

HELENA, Mont. - Companies fracking for gas do a poor job of informing the public, according to some investor groups. Their recently released third annual scorecard called Disclosing The Facts faults several companies that are active in Montana for secrecy, including Whiting, Chevron and Exxon.

The report says the companies need to be more transparent in areas such as water pollution, methane leakage, the use of toxic chemicals and community impacts. Whiting Petroleum scored only two out of a possible 39, while Chevron and Mobil both got a four. Danielle Fugere is president of As You Sow, one of the groups behind the scorecard.

"Leaks, spills and explosions continue to make headlines, even as 70 percent of the energy companies continue to get failing marks," Fugere says.

Whiting, Exxon and Chevron did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The scorecard does praise Noble Energy for significant improvement, rating them fifth best on the list.

The investor groups argue public disclosure will encourage voluntary use of well-established best industry practices in areas such as water use, waste disposal, leak detection, and traffic and road impacts. Steven Heim, managing director with Boston Common Asset Management, says without proper disclosure, investors are in the dark.

He says this is going to be increasingly important, with low gas prices putting pressure on producers to cut corners.

"To what degree that they can be a low-cost operator, particularly with the low prices for gas, now, and oil," says Heim. "Our concern is how well that they can also be responsible environmentally and to their local communities."

The industry will often cite its economic importance when arguing against government regulation. But Richard Liroff, executive director with the Investor Environmental Health Network, says companies should realize voluntary disclosure and good corporate citizenship are good for long-term profitability.

"We hold shares in the companies," says Liroff. "We have access to senior management. We can say, 'Here is the business case for doing all these good things that will position the company well competitively and will also be good for the environment and local communities.'"

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT