November 14, 2016

Oil & Gas Issues Explored Through a Collaborative Lens

Posted by elandau

In today’s complex world, the biggest science and policy issues require a new approach to thinking. Scientists, policymakers, industry leaders, and legislators can no longer operate within their own circles. Meaningful results come from these groups working together in a collaborative process.

A breakout group working at GPC.The inaugural GeoPolicy Connect was a targeted effort to do just that. The event brought together people from different sectors – business leaders, centennial state lawmakers, federally focused environmentalists, geophysics techies, big thinkers, and policy-savvy scientists – for a two-day event in Fort Collins, Colorado. Participants discussed substantive and process issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing and how to approach those issues more constructively.

“As we learn together, as we probe on the factual basis, as we make sure we understand all sides of the issue we are facing, we find that we can often come to a consensus.” – Gail Kepper

Key themes emerged from the day’s discussions:

  • Trust and understanding are critical to moving forward and creating a collaborative dialogue that leads to substantive decisions
  • Science must be a part of the conversation and it must be conveyed in a way that can be understood and serves the needs of differing groups–from local communities to policy-makers
  • To build public trust around science policy decisions, people must use transparent and independent sources of verification

These takeaways stemmed from conversations focused around individual perspectives on oil and gas development, the role of science in the issue, and specific strategies to help break down barriers on the subject. Through productive breakout sessions and talks by in-the-know speakers, including former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and current Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, attendees were able to build recommendations for better decision-making.

“There’s got to be collaboration between the researchers, state level government employees and the policy people.” – GPC Participant

Participants also agreed that conversations between stakeholders are critical and should happen in such a way that allows all parties to have their voices heard.

“The truth is not black and white. It’s somewhere in the middle. There isn’t one answer in science. You have to be open to many ideas.” – GPC participant

In the coming weeks, AGU will develop these key takeaways into a framework for discussing policy issues with a diverse group.  To receive the final GeoPolicy Connect report, fill out this form.