Shelby Co. trying to change perceptions of oil industry

An energy expo is how the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce is addressing a paradox that follows the oil and gas industry around.

"No matter what the project, there will always going to be down sides to it," Center Mayor David Chadwick said. "You have to look for that balance of up and down of both."

A researcher knows how the energy industry makes people mad.

"The social and environmental issues viewed more negative," said Dr. Gene Theodori of Sam Houston State University.

The number one gripe is increased truck traffic, something Shelby County knows about for sure. But ask those same people what they like about the energy industry and they'll cite the service and economic benefits. Vendors at Wednesday's Energy Expo are going after some of that new business.

"I think the public these days are a lot more curious and a lot more interested, so the more they ask, the more I tell," said Jeff Holliday, the Chesapeake manager for corporate development.

That's a good practice for energy corporations to follow, according to the researchers.

"The general public is thirsty for accurate, objective, fact-based information when it comes to energy," Theodori said.

The energy industry is learning public perception can set policy. Federal and state environmental regulations are tougher. Dallas has more restrictions for urban drilling. Shelby county has more enforcement to control speeding trucks. And it all started with the public's perception.

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