Public involvement and community relationships are vital and sensitive elements for successful permitting of new projects, project development, and long-term operations. Most of Owl Ridge’s projects have involved public outreach and participation and many of our projects have involved complex, highly visible proposed actions requiring coordination among many stakeholders while meeting aggressive schedules. We have extensive experience with public and stakeholder involvement and in fostering and maintaining community relationships.
The existence of split estates is a unique issue for oil and gas leasing and development projects. Surface-only owners often feel ignored, unfairly treated, and powerless because they do not own the minerals and the mineral estate legally trumps surface estate.
A continuing effort must be made to obtain respect and trust from the community and landowners to support cooperation in project development and operation. Owl Ridge staff have worked in the oil and gas industry in the Rocky Mountain Region and are keenly aware of the importance for industry and individual workers to become a part of the community and to not be perceived as visitors or outsiders.
Strategies to foster these relationships require continual interaction and a rapid response to landowner issues. Owl Ridge staff can develop effective public relations strategies and programs that incorporate everyday responsibilities of field environmental coordinators, landmen, and field operators to track accountability.
Owl Ridge regularly develops project-specific Public Involvement Plans (PIPs) that focus on clarifying and driving thoughtful, sustained, and meaningful participation and interaction; building trust among parties that have a role or stake in the project; and mitigating opposition. The PIPs also identify or suggest the most effective tools and timing needed to successfully (and proactively) manage public input, tribal consultation, technical interactions/review, public/media relations, and other forms of interaction to facilitate alignment on communications. Our efforts to involve the public and stakeholders commonly include the use of public meetings, project-specific websites, periodic newsletters, public notices, general project mailings, surveys, and direct communications. Owl Ridge staff have supported controversial, large, and visible oil and gas EIS projects such as the Powder River Basin Oil and Natural Gas Project EIS. As part of the NEPA process, we plan and organize public meetings to address scoping as well as public review of documents. Our work has included all requirements of NEPA to facilitate and incorporate public involvement. As an example of our efforts, the Striker Brigade EIS (see Project Highlights) required Owl Ridge staff to prepare for and conduct 15 scoping meetings held over three weeks in five states. Other NEPA EIS projects required review and responses to as many as 80,000 public comments.