Industry in Action: Focus on Environmental Justice
The oil and natural gas industry is global in scope and continually strives to develop processes and strategies to proactively engage with local communities to address specific local concerns and needs while improving environmental and social performance. API’s Industry in Action: Environmental Justice is a review that explores the industry’s commitment to environmental justice efforts in four categories of action that will enable strong performance for addressing environmental justice - respecting human rights, engaging stakeholders, improving performance, and creating local economic opportunities.
API Environmental Justice Principles
The natural gas and oil industry is essential to supporting a modern standard of living for all by ensuring that communities have access to affordable, reliable, and cleaner energy, and we are committed to working with local communities and policymakers to promote these principles across the energy sector. Our top priority remains public health and safety, and companies often have well-established policies in place for proactive community engagement and feedback aimed at fostering a culture of trust, inclusivity and transparency. We believe that all people should be treated fairly, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. API supports:
- Increased racial, national origin and socioeconomic diversity of all stakeholders involved in the environmental policy development process.
- Development of enhanced risk communication tools and increased usage of those tools to inform businesses and communities on how to manage and/or reduce risks in operation areas.
- Development and application of the best and publicly available scientific methods to define the relationship between chemical stressors, non-chemical stressors, and social determinants of health.
- Use of community monitoring as a tool to better understand sources of emissions and potential impacts and mitigation measures.
- The development of improved decision-making tools, including EJSCREEN – an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic indicators.
Engaging Local Communities and Improving Environmental Performance
Our industry is working every day to be a good neighbor and have a positive impact in local communities. We are committed to supporting constructive interactions between industry, regulators and surrounding communities/populations that may be disproportionately impacted and addressing any potential inequitable effects. API member companies implement a high standard of environmental, social and health impact assessments for new projects and existing operations to continuously evaluate and mitigate potential impacts. It is standard industry practice to foster broad stakeholder engagement through every phase of a project, and natural gas and oil companies often have dedicated personnel focused on proactively understanding, discussing and appropriately resolving community concerns related to our operations.
“We have a fundamental belief that our success working with neighboring communities flows from our efforts to be inclusive and to seek solutions that works best for everyone.” – Shell
From 1970 and 2019, the combined U.S. emissions of six common pollutants dropped by 77 percent.
Supporting Local Economic Development
Energy development provides significant socio-economic benefits to neighboring communities, including local job creation, competitive wages, supply chain development, consumer savings and billions in government revenue that funds education, conservation, infrastructure and other public services. Many companies have made socio-economic commitments, such as providing access to employment and apprenticeship programs, investing in STEM education and local youth programs, procuring local goods and services, improving infrastructure and developing local businesses and workforce skills.
Advancing Strong Standards
promote the safe and responsible development of natural gas and oil resources by engaging and respecting the communities in which we operate. API Energy Excellence, established in 2021, is the industry’s unified approach to accelerating safety and environmental progress. Under this program, stakeholder engagement is a core element and API members commit to enhancing the integrity of operations across the industry by applying best-in-class standards, implementing workforce training programs, and participating in performance initiatives.