Is fracking benign or bad? An opportunity to cut the cost of energy and reduce the environmental damage of oil and coal production or a threat to water resources and public health? The controversy around this issue seems to grow daily.
CSRHub has now added fracking (some call it fracing) to our growing list of special issues. Those who have registered or subscribed on our site can choose to either approve of fracking (green button), disapprove of it (red button), or block out ratings entirely for companies who participate in the area (white button). The list of companies involved in this area was surprisingly long—we found that 51 companies out of the approximately 5,000 we cover participate in the area. We have partial information on another 40 or so smaller companies. We hope to be able to publish partial ratings on these companies, soon.
We were able to create our list thanks to the hard work of five organizations and one well known expert in the area, blogger Mike Benard. With help from Mike, we reviewed data from FracFocus (44 companies matched our list), FracTracker (31 matches), Marcellus Shale Coalition (42 matches), Marcellus Money (26 matches), and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (23 matches). We combined their input with data Mike had gathered on 56 companies to create our final list.
As you can see from the sources we are citing, a lot of attention has been focused on the Marcellus Shale formation that stretches across a large part of the US central and eastern region. We hope to add other sources soon that identify companies that are involved in fracking in other parts of the US and in the rest of the world. We suspect that there are at least another 100 companies among those we rate who participate in this area—either directly via drilling and exploration or through supplying materials to the industry or by helping to process and transport the gas and oil fluids they extract. We encourage our community to suggest additional sources.
The overall ratings for the companies covered by this special issue range from a low of 39 (using our average user profile) to a high of 64. The average for each source’s list is right around the average score for our entire database—between 48 and 50. This suggests that the companies involved in this area are not entirely positive or inherently anti-social—they may instead be ordinary companies who did not realize involvement in fracking could be controversial.
We now carry 15 special issues in our system. For some issues (such as Labor Union Support and Gay and Lesbian Sensitivity), our users have supported companies with these practices. On others (such as Animal Testing and Burma Involved), the majority of our users oppose company involvement in the issue. It will be interesting to see how our users “vote” on fracking—and how our users’ views tie to and correlate with their views on other areas of sustainability.