By John Graves, CLU, ChFC.

The API recently released Bulletin 100-3 on community engagement standards for unconventional production. While well-crafted with the producer/community interface in mind, I would suggest more forceful communications with the general public. This suggestion is made for two reasons: the resistance from the environmental community is rising; the general public responds to brevity. As an outsider to the energy community, I realize that my perspective differs from within. Perhaps this is of some use as we all move forward. Engage. Be Brief. Avoid extremes.


Engage the local community, as well rehearsed by the API. Do so early, quickly and responsively. State clearly what your work will do to the local jobs market and economy. Most important when near urban centers, state the positive environmental impact of your work. Engage the press. Urge common sense communication. The energy community has its own words, nomenclature, even way of life. Reach beyond this world to the common man. For example, Cabot recently ran a 10-well, 170-stage frack from one pad using high substitution rate bifuel for all operations, and “green” technology oil, while recycling water. This savings of hundreds of truck refill runs, reduction in pad clearings, reduced diesel fuel use, elimination of NOX emissions and safe working conditions are all important, certainly, and should be trumpeted. Yet, few people know the words bifuel, stages, pad drilling, green oil or truck refill runs, much less their application. The story is: an environmentally-aware frack operator has reduced its local impact using the latest green technology to enhance natural gas recovery. The interaction between the community and the producer resulted in lower emissions, higher employment and tax revenues while working closely with the community. Then the zinger: this is the same company falsely accused of polluting local water, investigated by the EPA and ultimately found not guilty. Setting the standard for community outreach, involvement and environmental awareness.

Be Brief.

Exploration creates jobs. Marcellus reduces C02. U.S. crude production reduces trade deficits. Pipelines are built by union members. LNG shipping brings capital to the US. Put an image with each statement you make. Josh Fox gets away with lies: show the clip that the Texas Superior Court judge saw illustrating how he falsified “burning taps.” Sierra Club (your worst nightmare) puts out press releases hourly, it seems: respond directly and immediately to each one. Deluge the media with short factual statements attached to an image reflecting the point.

Avoid Extremes.

The energy community tends to ignore the environmental activist community. Their attacks continue, virtually unabated. This is at your own risk! Pew Research recently stated (shouted) the results of their poll: 49% wanted an immediate end to fracking in the US. Who in the energy world responded? Which media center picked this up? You only have a short time to convince the public - others are doing so every day. Wake up! (Retired USPS geologist, 2005) Make factual statements every day - in response to these accusations (stated or implied). Use local backdrops - with children and teachers and workers - women and men. Use the mass of data available to make the facts clear. Whether train derailments, water use issues or hydrocarbon mishaps, turn these stories into examples of how the extreme is not representative of reality. Use each to show how the energy community is responsive. Even Macondo was an educational event for the drilling community. Tell the story from a dryholers' point of view. They knew what would happen before it did. Finally, the employment issue in the energy community is perhaps the second-greatest threat to the shale revolution. Turnover and senior retirements are hemorrhaging the industry. This leads to great opportunities. Use the education process at UT, Texas A&M, etc. as examples of the growing employment market in energy. Show clips of returning war vets working in the field. Use YouTube illustrating the extraordinary job opportunities for women in the energy industry today - it ain't your good ol’ boy network much longer! Those of you on the front lines of the Energy Revolution are challenging and changing our way of life in America. You create jobs, technology, taxes and encourage wise regulation. $100 billion in capital adventure will be spawned during 2014 just in the industry. $65 billion will be spent in the industrialization of the Midwest, as the Marcellus and Utica provide inexpensive energy for manufacturers and distributors. Applied sciences in upstream, midstream and downstream are the cutting edge of environmental awareness and application. 1.7 million new jobs since 2007 will be multiplied threefold during the next decade. $1 trillion in taxes will flow from the energy industry by 2035, from $5 trillion in new capital investment. Imagine an ideal world where drillers, conservationists, regulators, workers and community members work together for the good of all.

John Graves is the author of Fracking: America's Alternative Energy Solution. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He can be reached at and 805.652.6948.