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Chevron, Shell, Enviros Set Fracking Standards

Chevron, Shell and other natural gas companies and environmental groups have formed a new center that will set standards for drilling by hydraulic fracturing in the Appalachian Basin.

Based in Pittsburgh, Penn., the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) has established 15 initial performance standards that the groups say will ensure safe and environmentally responsible development of the region’s abundant shale gas resources. These standards place limits on flaring, reduce engine emissions, encourage maximum water recycling and reduce the toxicity of the fracking fluid. The standards will form the foundation of the CSSD’s independent, third-party certification process.

Companies can begin seeking certification in these areas later this year.

CSSD’s other founding participants are: Clean Air Task Force, Consol Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, EQT Corporation, Group Against Smog and Pollution, Heinz Endowments, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the William Penn Foundation. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, ICF International and the law firm of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott provided technical support.

In announcing the center yesterday, Clean Air Task Force executive director Armond Cohen called on all Appalachian shale producers to join CSSD, and said the standards should serve as a model for national policy.

CSSD says it plans to develop programs to share best practices.

The natural gas industry is technologically capable of tapping shale gas resources, but some companies may have trouble managing the environmental and social risks involved, according to a report published earlier this month by the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute.

A report released in January by consulting firm Accenture found shale gas companies could benefit financially and cut water use by collaborating with regulators and sharing infrastructure with other operators working in the same drilling basin.

The shale gas boom “will be a game changer” for North American companies that rely on feedstock or direct energy usage to compete on a global level, according to analysis published last month by RBC Capital Markets and Economist Intelligence Unit.


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