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Comparative Analysis of Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Practices in Unconventional Shale Development: Newspaper Coverage of Stakeholder Concerns and Social License to Operate

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Department of Strategic Management and Organization, Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2R6, Canada
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Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H1, Canada
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Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada
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Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Johannes Franciscus Leonardus Marinus Maria Dagevos
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 912; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8090912
Received: 18 April 2016 / Revised: 4 August 2016 / Accepted: 2 September 2016 / Published: 8 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
In this article we review prior literature regarding the concept of social license to operate, and related concepts, including corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, stakeholder management and cumulative effects. Informed by these concepts, we search for newspaper articles published in North American provinces and states where the Barnett, Duvernay, Marcellus and Montney shale plays are located. Using these data, we tabulate coverage of stakeholder concerns related to hydraulic fracturing and wastewater practices, and compare the extent to which these concerns vary over place and time. Our vocabulary analyses identify differences in the types and quantities of newspaper coverage devoted to concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing activities in general and wastewater practices in particular. We interpret these differences as suggesting that obtaining a social license to operate is likely not a one size fits all proposition. By understanding which stakeholder concerns are most salient in particular places and times, oil and gas operators and regulators can better tailor their strategies and policies to address local concerns. In other words, the findings from this study indicate that conventional understandings of risk as a technical or economic problem may not be adequate for dealing with unconventional resource challenges such as hydraulic fracturing. Operators and regulators may also need to manage social and cultural risks. View Full-Text
Keywords: social license to operate; hydraulic fracturing; oil and gas industry; sustainability; stakeholder management; corporate social responsibility; cumulative effects management social license to operate; hydraulic fracturing; oil and gas industry; sustainability; stakeholder management; corporate social responsibility; cumulative effects management
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Gehman, J.; Thompson, D.Y.; Alessi, D.S.; Allen, D.M.; Goss, G.G. Comparative Analysis of Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Practices in Unconventional Shale Development: Newspaper Coverage of Stakeholder Concerns and Social License to Operate. Sustainability 2016, 8, 912.

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