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Ohio Utica Shale

EDF touts now-open Pittsburgh sustainable shale center

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2014
From Environmental Defense Fund's Energy Exchange Blog today:
By: Matt Watson, National Director of State Programs, Natural Gas
This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.
The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) put out the Open For Business sign today – a key milestone in this innovative effort to up the game on environmental protection in shale gas development. The question now is, will energy companies step up?
We hope so.
CSSD is an unprecedented collaboration – bringing together environmental groups, philanthropic organizations and energy companies to develop performance standards for reducing environmental impacts from shale gas production, and setting up a system so gas producers can have their operations audited and certified against those standards.
CSSD isn’t a substitute for effective regulation. Strong rules and robust oversight is a nonnegotiable bottom line. But we like the idea of upping the ante. Why not have a program that recognizes companies for going beyond the regulatory minimums and doing more to protect communities and the environment? These companies are tough competitors – so let’s make environmental performance part of what they compete on.
I like to use the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED™ program as an analogy for what CSSD could be. Through its certifications, the LEED™ program has had an enormous influence in making sustainably built homes and offices a growing part of the market. At the same time, developers who build to LEED™ standards find they get higher rents, more attractive financing and better insurance rates.
What if we could do the same thing here? What if we could introduce a whole new set of economic incentives for improving environmental performance in shale gas production? …It’s worth a shot.
Now, the key pieces of the program are in place. The group has developed 15 initial performance standards that represent leading practices for protecting air, water and climate (new standards will be added over time, and each of the standards will be reviewed every year to make sure they continue to set a high bar for performance). A top-notch auditing firm has been hired. And a detailed set of protocols is in place to make sure the company audits are rigorous, consistent and transparent.
So, CSSD is open for business, and any operator in the Appalachian region can apply for certification. At the outset, four companies have said they will put their operations under the microscope and seek certification – Chevron, CONSOL Energy, EQT and Shell. That’s a great start. But it’s only a start.
The real proof will be in what comes next. Will these first four companies get the kind of recognition they’re after? Will mineral owners and communities start asking operators if they’re CSSD certified before they open their doors to development? Will other companies see the advantage to committing themselves to meet a higher bar and come through the door to get certified?
We hope so.
That’s why we’ve invested the time to build a rigorous certification process in collaboration with energy companies, regulators, CSSD auditors, environmental groups and other stakeholders. We recognize that this project is no panacea for solving all the challenges associated with shale energy production. But the potential is there for raising the bar on performance – and if we can do that, it will have been worth the effort.




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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

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

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.