What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

It is important for local governments, industry representatives, and other local stakeholders to begin sharing information and opening a dialogue early in the development process. As discussed above, the long-term health of the community and its environment can be linked to the presence of industry. To ensure that the community benefits in the long term, it is important for local officials to carefully manage the short-term benefits to offset costs and prepare for the long term.

Collaborative Activities

In the exploratory drilling phase, it is still uncertain whether or not the project will proceed to development and production. Factors that enter into a company’s decision to develop the resources in the area include: the size and viability of the resource; the political and regulatory environment; the availability of local infrastructure, gathering systems, and pipelines; proximity to market; the feasibility of constructing well pads and infrastructure on the available land; presence of other operators; and oil and gas prices, which can be volatile. 1

While conversations will necessarily be iterative as circumstances change and new information emerges, it can be useful for local officials and industry representatives to hold initial discussions on the following topics:

  • information-sharing on the company’s activities and plans, to the extent possible
  • regional infrastructure development, transportation planning, traffic management, and road safety
  • approaches for meeting housing needs and maintaining the availability of affordable housing
  • educational and job-skills training programs with community leaders and local educational institutions
  • ideas for potential investment strategies to maximize project benefits and diversify and stabilize the local economy if the site moves to the development phase (recognizing that this may not occur)

Notes:

  1. API “Community Engagement Guidelines,” 3