What topics are useful to discuss at this stage?
If local officials and company representatives meet to discuss the company’s anticipated needs and potential community impacts, possible topics to cover include:
- the likelihood that the project will proceed to production
- the length of time the operator anticipates conducting activities in the community
- the typical number of outside workers the project will require and how the company plans to accommodate them
- the number of families and children who could accompany project workers, which can help local officials determine whether more educational resources are needed
- the profile of the local labor pool and whether the company plans to hire locally; if so, what job skills and training might be necessary
- the company’s emergency response plans and potential demands on emergency and fire department services, including any training needs and any specialized emergency response equipment that should be acquired (e.g., personal protective equipment)
- amount and timing of anticipated vehicle traffic; which local roads/bridges to avoid or are in need of an upgrade
- method for responding to any impacts to local infrastructure and services
- the company’s plans for water sourcing; air, water, and noise monitoring; waste disposal; and erosion control
- approach to responding to community concerns about light, noise, and dust from traffic
- any plans to conduct flaring at the site
- the company’s approach to engaging local community stakeholders
Depending on the outcome of these discussions, potential areas for collaborative planning or joint initiatives could emerge. For example, local officials can potentially work with the company and other regional stakeholders to coordinate the construction of water pipelines or common waste disposal facilities. These stakeholders may work together to establish educational programs in the region to train local workers in the skills needed at project sites (see Box 10. Examples of Education and Training Programs).
Local officials could also work with company representatives to hold an informational session or open house about the potential for shale development in the community. Many of the above topics should also be covered in an open house—in particular, it can be helpful to discuss the likelihood that the project will proceed and the length of time operations would last.