Countering Quarry Opponents: Be Early, Be Factual, Address Issues

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By Christopher Hopkins, The Saint Consulting Group

Environmentalists often lead the fight against new projects proposed by the aggregates industry. Recent comments by an energy company CEO identified lessons he had learned from environmentalists who opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, and the points he raised apply to the aggregates industry as well.

Chevron CEO John Watson was asked what he had learned from the environmental protests. He said, “We have to do a better job of educating the community, we have to get out there earlier to identify and address concerns before the environmentalists get started.”

Watson, speaking last month at Chevron’s headquarters in San Ramon, CA, said, “We do have to get out there, be early, be factual and address peoples’ concerns fully.”

The Obama Administration delayed a decision last November on the 1,660-mile pipeline to evaluate other potential routes until after the 2012 presidential election, following energetic opposition from environmental groups across the country and along the proposed route from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Pipeline campaigns and other environmental issues that are picked up by non-government organizations like Sierra Club are mostly political, Watson said, “and we do have to address the issues, address false misconceptions and educate the communities.”

”The Keystone XL pipeline was a largely political battle, and one where the energy industry has to play a more pro-active role to educate the public, he said.

Alex Mehran, president and CEO of Sunset Development, which sponsored the forum at which Watson spoke, encouraged industry in general to get engaged in forums where they can counter the opposition to business growth.

Christopher Hopkins is senior vice president for aggregates and mining for The Saint Consulting Group, email


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