Effective stakeholder engagement processes are multi-directional, inclusive, and seek to build trust.
Processes require access to information and meaningful opportunities to influence both regulatory outcomes and industry decisions while recognizing the legal and economic limits that may restrict those outcomes and decisions.
Processes must clearly articulate a purpose for the stakeholder engagement, the rationale that motivates participation, and acknowledge participants’ diverse roles and definitions of success.
Processes need neutral or trusted conveners and facilitators, especially if levels of trust among participants are low at the outset.
Processes must start early in the shale development process, but adapt to the changing needs of stakeholders over the lifetime of energy development, from inception, through construction, operation, decommissioning, and land reclamation.
FINDING 1: Effective stakeholder engagement is not being practiced systemically by regulators or the industry.
Research is needed at the site-specific and landscape level, and over the lifetime of energy development, from inception, through the construction, operation, decommissioning, and land reclamation phases.
Research that is based on needs of regulators, industry, and other stakeholders, i.e., use-inspired, and prioritized to achieve measurable beneficial outcomes, will support evidence-based decision making.
Clear research priorities and high data quality foster accountability and legitimacy in both the research and decision-making processes.
Research transparency and accessibility are enhanced when findings are assessed and compared according to quality, scope, methodology, and replicability.
FINDING 2: Evidence-based decision making improves administrative and regulatory decisions for addressing shale oil and gas risks and benefits when it is based on the best available science and informed by stakeholder experience and relevant local context.
State oil and gas regulatory agencies must explicitly identify the economic and social concerns, values, and information used in their decisions regarding where the development of shale resources is appropriate and where it is not.
State oil and gas regulatory agencies, working with other agencies, stakeholders, industry, and non-governmental organizations, need new analytical tools and approaches for planning less impactful shale resource development.
The regulatory community needs to promote regulatory excellence and improve regulatory processes by identifying and implementing leadership attributes and principles, such as integrity, empathy and competence, in a continuously adaptive manner.
FINDING 3: Regulators must work with often sharply divided stakeholders to identify and solve problems that require not only technical competency but also an understanding of the social, economic, and legal drivers in order to improve regulatory outcomes.