Eastern Section Meeting

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The Critical Role of Voluntary Standards and Certification in the Hydraulic Fracturing Framework


Multiple organizations have adopted various versions of best practices in the area of shale gas extraction and production. The experience of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (“CSSD”) is instructive of the challenges such an initiative faces as well as the potential for impact. CSSD is a non-profit organization formed in 2011 to respond to the growing need for responsible approaches to the prospect of shale gas development in the Appalachian Basin, including the Marcellus and Utica Plays. It has brought together industry and environmental organizations with a goal of ensuring the highest level of environmental and community responsibility when a decision is made to develop and extract shale gas. CSSD's fifteen (15) standards address risks to air and water and define a level of performance intended to reflect best practices and exceed conventional regulatory requirements. In addition, CSSD manages a certification program identifying producers who meet those standards. In an era when there has been no significant new environmental legislation for decades, and any environmental regulation almost inevitably faces a gauntlet of challenges, the role of a voluntary standards and certification organization becomes more critical and, arguably, more necessary.