||Natural Gas Hydraulic Fracturing
||Green Century Capital Management
Safer Alternatives for Natural Gas Exploration and Development
Onshore "unconventional" natural gas production requiring hydraulic fracturing, which injects a mix of water, chemicals, and particles underground to create fractures through which gas can flow for collection, is estimated to increase by 45% between 2007 and 2030. An estimated 60-80% of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing.
Fracturing operations can have significant impacts on surrounding communities including the potential for increased incidents of toxic spills, impacts to local water quantity and quality, and degradation of air quality. Government officials in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado have documented methane gas linked to fracturing operations in drinking water. In Wyoming, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently found a chemical known to be used in fracturing in at least three wells adjacent to drilling operations.
There is virtually no public disclosure of chemicals used at fracturing locations. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 stripped EPA of its authority to regulate fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act and state regulation is uneven and limited. But recently, some new federal and state regulations have been proposed. In June 2009, federal legislation to reinstate EPA authority to regulate fracturing was introduced. In September 2009, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released draft permit conditions that would require disclosure of chemicals used, specific well construction protocols, and baseline pre-testing of surrounding drinking water wells. New York sits above part of the Marcellus Shale, which some believe to be the largest onshore natural gas reserve.
Media attention has increased exponentially. A search of the Nexis Mega-News library on November 11, 2009 found 1807 articles mentioning "hydraulic fracturing" and environment in the last two years, a 265 percent increase over the prior three years.
Because of public concern, in September 2009, some natural gas operators and drillers began advocating greater disclosure of the chemical constituents used in fracturing.
In the proponents' opinion, emerging technologies to track "chemical signatures" from drilling activities increase the potential for reputational damage and vulnerability to litigation.
Furthermore, we believe uneven regulatory controls and reported contamination incidents compel companies to protect their long-term financial interests by taking measures beyond regulatory requirements to reduce environmental hazards.
Therefore be it resolved,
Shareholders request that the Board of Directors prepare a report by October 1, 2010, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, summarizing 1.the environmental impact of fracturing operations of Williams Companies, Inc.; 2. potential policies for the company to adopt, above and beyond regulatory requirements, to reduce or eliminate hazards to air, water, and soil quality from fracturing.
Proponents believe the policies explored by the report should include, among other things, use of less toxic fracturing fluids, recycling or reuse of waste fluids, and other structural or procedural strategies to reduce fracturing hazards.