Engelder said he believes the industry should work more closely with opponents and give them detailed explanations of the geology, the risks and the benefits of drilling. "I would do whatever it took to try and engage these people over a period of time," he said.
But some industry critics are skeptical.
"You can't change the spots on a leopard," said Jim Switzer, a Dimock resident who says drilling ruined his water. "They would spend a billion dollars to say they weren't responsible for something rather than spend a couple million dollars of taking care of who they screwed."
Another drilling critic who battled Colorado's Encana Oil & Gas for 10 years over its work around his property said he was angered not only by noise and pollution but also by industry attitudes.
"Those people moved into our valley like a conquering army," said Thomas Thompson, who complained that the heavy equipment that accompanied drilling in Rifle, Colo., created endless dust storms that caused health problems for him and his wife.
Thompson said he's never said the U.S. shouldn't develop natural gas resources, just that it should be done responsibly. After years of asking government agencies and the industry to address the problems, Thompson and his wife relocated to Texas and settled a lawsuit over his claims.
The company said Thompson essentially "did not like having oil and gas activity on his property."
"We realize that this is sometimes the case, particularly if an individual doesn't have mineral rights and receives no economic benefit from our presence and activity," Encana spokesman Doug Hock said in an email. "Generally, we're able to reach some sort of accommodation. In other cases, such as this one, it's not possible."
Despite the anger from some critics, Hofmeister thinks many in the industry are "rather unemotional" about the opposition.
"It's a big world," Hofmeister said. "The industry will move on to where it will be successful."
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