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Ohio Utica Shale

Another Pittsburgh group has been working on drilling standards

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2013

From the Marcellus Drilling News:

Apparently the announcement that there’s a new kid in town when it comes to “regulating” Marcellus Shale drilling—The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD)—has prompted another group to stand up and say, “Me too! Me too! Look at me!”

MDN told you about the launch of the CSSD yesterday (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). In today’s Pittsburgh Business Times, we learn of yet another group that until now has met in secret, attempting (like CSSD) to craft new guidelines (let’s call them what they really are, regulations) for Marcellus Shale drilling. This new group is being run by the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute on Politics and includes some of the same participants powering the CSSD as well as Gov. Corbett’s energy executive and a representative from the state DEP. They call their group the “Shale Gas Roundtable.”

Perhaps feeling as though their work may have been upstaged by the CSSD’s announcement, the Shale Gas Roundtable came out of the shadows today…

 

A group of shale operators, foundations and regulators assembled by the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute on Politics has quietly been meeting for more than a year to craft recommendations for Marcellus Shale exploration.

It’s called the Shale Gas Roundtable, and one of its priorities is the establishment of an independent institute to study shale gas and its effects on the environment.

“There’s very little actual research being done in shale gas,” said James Roddey, a principal at ParenteBeard who co-chairs the group with Carnegie Mellon University’s President Jared Cohon.

What little study the subject has received lives under suspicion because it was funded either by industry interests or environmental groups, he added.

“We feel that there is a need to have somebody that is truly viewed as independent,” he said.

The group has been meeting every other month and includes such industry heavy hitters as Chevron Corp. and EQT Corp., foundations such as the Heinz Endowment and top officials from state government, including the Department of Environmental Protection’s Director, Bureau of Oil and Gas Management Scott Perry and Gov. Tom Corbett’s energy executive, Patrick Henderson. It is currently drafting its recommendations and hopes to release them in the next 90 days, Roddey said…

Another initiative focused on independent verification, The Center for Sustainable Gas Development, was launched just days ago. Headquartered at EQT Plaza where two of its members, EQT Corp. and the Heinz Endowments, are based, the center will offer third-party verified certifications for shale gas operators based on standards approved by both industry and nonprofit organizations.*

Regulating oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania legally belongs to the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the state legislature that passes laws governing it. Of course, these “independent” organizations are trying to recommend and influence regulation—they don’t have the force of law to impose their “guidelines.” Although in the case of CSSD, they clearly intend to use peer pressure to force drillers to adopt their performance standards, which in many cases exceed the DEP’s standards (which are legal).

Click the link below to read the rest of the story, including the Shale Gas Roundtable’s challenging efforts to create a new “independent” shale institute.

*Pittsburgh Business Times (Mar 22, 2013) – Shale Gas Roundtable declares research independence (subscription required)

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Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

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