From the Marcellus Drilling News:
More fallout from the launch of The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), a new group aimed at slapping restrictive new rules on Marcellus Shale drillers (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). It seems MDN is not the only one to distrust the new group. On the other side of the drilling debate isle, the Sierra Club came out swinging yesterday—saying this new group will legitimize “dirty, dangerous fossil fuels, like natural gas” (they are a whacky bunch, aren’t they?).
John Hanger, former Secretary of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (now running for governor in PA), endorses the CSSD’s bullying approach of “get a certification from us or screw you” (our words, not his):
The Sierra Club and some other environmental groups are harshly criticizing a new partnership that aims to create tough new standards for fracking.
The criticism Thursday came a day after two of the nation’s biggest oil and gas companies made peace with some national and regional environmental groups, agreeing to go through an independent review of their shale oil and gas drilling operations in the Northeast.
If Shell Oil, Chevron Appalachia and other companies are found to be abiding by a list of stringent measures to protect the air and water from pollution, they will receive the blessing of the new Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development, created by environmentalists and the energy industry.
But some are questioning whether a partnership between environmentalists and the oil and gas industry should exist at all.
“We know that our continued reliance on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels, like natural gas, will not solve the climate crisis, even with the best controls in place,” said Deb Nardone, a Sierra Club campaign director, who called the new plan “akin to slapping a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.”
“The majority of natural gas must stay in the ground if we want any chance of avoiding climate disaster,” Nardone said.
An Ohio environmental group wasn’t happy, either.
“This deal in no way represents the interests or agreement of the people being harmed by fracking in Ohio,” said Sandy Buchanan, the director of Ohio Citizen Action. “A hydraulic fracturing peace treaty? Not so fast, my friend.”
In addition to Shell and Chevron, the participants in the new center include the Environmental Defense Fund, the Heinz Endowments, the Clean Air Task Force, EQT Corp. and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. The organizers hope to recruit new members, too.
The project will cover Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio — where a frenzy of drilling is under way in the huge, gas-rich Marcellus and Utica Shale formations. If fracking is approved in New York and other states in the East that have put a hold on new drilling, it could apply there, too.
The Environmental Defense Fund responded to the Sierra Club criticism by noting that the new plan is meant to be a complement to strong regulations, not a replacement.
“When an opportunity comes to engage companies constructively and hold them to a higher standard, we’re going to take that opportunity every time,” said Mark Brownstein, EDF associate vice president. He added that the new partnership with oil and gas companies comes with “a heavy dose of trust but verify” reality.
Brownstein noted that extensive oil and gas fracking is already taking place in many states and that it makes sense to improve standards in those places in every way possible.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania regulators have endorsed the new plan.
Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Kevin Sunday said the agency “applauds this collaboration between natural gas operators and non-governmental organizations. The best practices this group’s document speaks to — better on-site waste management practices, more recycling of wastewater, progressive fracturing fluid disclosure, and protecting private water supplies — are vital concepts of responsible gas development. ”
Sunday said the state has toughened standards over the last few years, and he praised “a cooperative spirit among oil and gas stakeholders to continually raise the bar of performance.”
Another person who was involved with the creation of the Pittsburgh center suggested that the Sierra Club and others are missing a key point.
John Hanger, the former director of the Pennsylvania DEP, wrote in a blog post Thursday that “ultimately, it will matter not that individual gas producers like or dislike CSSD. What will be decisive is that consumers of gas from Washington DC to Maine and from New York to Chicago will demand that their gas is certified as sustainably managed.”*
It should be noted that the law firm where Hanger works, Eckert Seamans, is involved with providing assistance to CSSD.
We find the notion that consumers will only want to buy “certified” gas to be, well, stupid. How do I buy “certified” oil? How do I buy “certified” coal? How do I buy “certified” electricity? Perhaps electricity is the best example: A few greenies always sign up for the “this electricity was generated by alternative energy sources” plans offered by regional utilities, and they invariably pay out the nose—much higher rates than for “regular” electricity—just to make themselves feel good they’ve somehow helped the environment.
Believe us when we say, no one will ask “is my natural gas certified” by some obscure, self-appointed and self-righteous group of people.
*AP/Brainerd (MN) Dispatch (Mar 21, 2013) – Sierra Club blasts new plan to improve fracking
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.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
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.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.