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New center to set stringent standards for fracking in East

March 20, 2013|By Neela Banerjee
  • A drilling rig is set up near a barn in Springville, Pa., to tap gas from the Marcellus Shale.
A drilling rig is set up near a barn in Springville, Pa., to tap gas from the… (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- A coalition of energy companies, environmentalists and Pennsylvania-based philanthropies announced Wednesday the creation of a center that would provide more stringent standards for fracking and natural gas development in the Eastern United States.

The Marcellus Shale formation, which extends from central New York to eastern Kentucky, is the site of a vast gas boom, most of it centered in Pennsylvania. But the production method of fracking, high-volume hydraulic fracturing that has tapped the gas deposits, has touched off concerns about the impact of such wide-scale industrial development on air and water quality.

The new Center for Sustainable Shale Development, the first of its kind in the U.S., seeks to set high operational standards for companies working in the Marcellus Shale in the areas of water and air quality and climate impact.

Though the center has 15 standards on the books so far, its members see that as just the start of a more sweeping and uniform improvement of gas production practices. Independent auditors would certify if the companies seeking the center’s seal of approval actually met the standards.

The center will be based in Pittsburgh and have a budget of about $1 million, which will be funded equally by industry and philanthropies.

The founders of the center include the energy companies Shell, Chevron, Consol Energy and EQT. Environmental backers include the Clean Air Task Force, the Environmental Defense Fund, Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.  The Heinz Endowments and the William Penn Foundation philanthropies are also involved.

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