Oil industry aims to be 'good neighbor' in fracking boom

A prominent industry group issued first-of-its-kind standards Wednesday for oil and gas companies to better engage the public at the local level on the controversial method of fracking for natural gas.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) released guidelines meant to help companies be "good neighbors,"  recommending they conduct public meetings on safety, work with educational institutions to discuss job training opportunities, and help explain their activities in the communities they operate in.

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"The energy revolution is now occurring in areas of the country where oil and natural gas exploration doesn’t have the same history as Texas or Oklahoma," API's David Miller said on a call with reporters Wednesday.

"API’s community engagement guidelines will serve as a gold standard for good neighbor policies that address community concerns, enhance the long-term benefits of local development, and ensure a two-way conversation regarding mutual goals for community growth.”

The standards come one week after New York ruled its towns and cities could ban fracking. Other states including California and Colorado have also pushed for bans on drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

When asked if the guidelines were in response to New York's ruling, head of the state's petroleum council, Karen Moreau, said on the call that the formal release of the best practice standards simply solidify existing engagement by companies with local residents.

Other recommendations issued Wednesday include introducing company and project heads to local leaders, addressing the economic, cultural, and environmental context of work in a company's engagement strategy, and expeditiously answer questions from the surrounding community.