A group of leading environmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, and energy companies have collaborated to form a unique center to provide producers with certification of performance standards for shale development. The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) has established 15 initial performance standards designed to ensure safe and environmentally responsible development of the Appalachian Basin's abundant shale gas resources. These standards will form the foundation of the CSSD's independent, third-party certification process.
"CSSD is the result of an unprecedented effort that brought together a group of stakeholders with diverse perspectives, working to create responsible performance standards and a rigorous, third-party evaluation process for shale gas operations," said Robert Vagt, president of The Heinz Endowments. "This process has demonstrated for us that industry and environmental organizations, working together, can identify shared values and find common ground on standards that are environmentally protective."
CSSD's founding participants are:
Technical support has been provided by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, ICF International, and the law firm of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott.
"While shale development has been controversial, everyone agrees that, when done, producers must minimize environmental risk," said Armond Cohen, executive director at Clean Air Task Force. "These standards are the state of the art on how to accomplish that goal, so we believe all Appalachian shale producers should join CSSD, and the standards should also serve as a model for national policy and practice."
Through discussions over the past two years, CSSD participants established a shared vision of performance and environmental risk minimization for natural gas development in the Appalachian region. The group's participants have worked to adopt a set of progressive and rigorous performance standards based on today's understanding of the risks associated with natural gas development and the technological capacity to minimize those risks.
"CSSD is focusing on the establishment of standards that will initially address the protection of air and water quality and climate, and will be expanded to include other performance standards such as safety," said Nicholas J. DeIuliis, president of CONSOL Energy. "Fundamentally, the aim is for these standards to represent excellence in performance."
Companies can begin seeking certification in these areas later this year.
CSSD also plans to develop programs to share best practices.
"Raising the bar on performance and committing to public, rigorous and verifiable standards demonstrates our companies' determination to develop this resource safely and responsibly," said Bruce Niemeyer, president of Chevron Appalachia. "Throughout the development of CSSD, the collaborative effort of environmental organizations, foundations and energy companies has been the key to achieving consensus on regional performance standards."
"This initiative is an important complement to strong regulatory frameworks. It's also a model of the regional collaborations recommended by the Shale Gas Production Subcommittee of the U.S. Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board to help drive a process of continuous improvement," said Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University and a member of CSSD's Board of Directors.
"While the potential economic and environmental benefits of shale gas are substantial, the public expects transparency, accountability and a fundamental commitment to environmental safety and the protection of human health from the companies operating throughout the region. CSSD is a sound step toward assuring the public that shale development is being done to the requisite standards of excellence," said Paul O'Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury and retired Chairman of Pittsburgh-based Alcoa and a member of CSSD's Board of Directors.
Members of CSSD's Board of Directors are:
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