What defines corporate social responsibility? Are corporations supposed to be responsible actors for the local community, society as a whole, stakeholders, shareholders, and/or the environment? The problem with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) practices in Oklahoma is making the definition of corporate social responsibility very blurry. Fracking is simply an advanced technique that allows oil drilling companies to extract more oil from the ground in a cheap and efficient manner. This would seem fantastic overall, yet there are environmental factors that must be considered. For example, does this practice cause earthquakes? According to Big Oil Pressured Scientists Over Fracking Wastewater’s Link to Quakes from Bloomberg, there are projected to be nearly 875 earthquakes in Oklahoma this year that rate higher than a 3.0 on the Richter scale. Historically, Oklahoma has averaged fewer than 2 earthquakes a year. So shouldn’t it seem obvious that there is a strict cause and effect relationship here. The problem is that big oil companies have a lot of lobbying ability. They can pressure scientists into delaying scientific results and sway their opinions. Why does nobody seem to care? Four main factors contribute to the negligence of outcry over the blatant corporate social irresponsibility.
1. Fracking has brought down costs for drilling companies. This is an incentive to continue drilling in this fashion.
2. Cheaper costs for drillers means more production and more supply. Overall, prices for oil will drop and gas pump prices drop as a result. Therefore, everyday consumers see a smaller gas bill. This is an incentive for consumers to turn their heads away from the environmental issue.
3. 1 in 5 Oklahomans are employed in the oil industry. Nobody wants to see more regulation which can lead to lower production and layoffs of local workers.
4. The earthquakes are of low magnitude which many do not see as a problem.
So if we look at this from a corporate social responsibility view, fracking is helping the local community flourish, keeping gas prices low for society as a whole, and low costs help company profits which is to the liking of stockholders. But what about the environment? Nobody seems to be scared about earthquakes, yet they have the capability of causing endless damage. We need to face up to the facts that the environment may be more important over the long run than cheaper gas for all, corporate profits, and local employment growth.