Chevron Appalachia president Bruce Niemeyer, left, a board member for the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, chats with fellow board members Conrad Schneider, center, and Davitt Woodwell, before the CSSD news conference, Downtown. The newly formed coalition is already under scrutiny from both the industry and environmental organizations. (Lake Fong/Post-Gazette)
According to a BusinessWeek article published yesterday, the newly formed Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which hoped to create a coalition between environmentalist organizations and the industry they often fight against, has instead presented members of both sides with a common enemy.
It seemed like such a good idea: allow both sides to work together to create environmental regulations they could both agree on. And they did - just a few weeks ago, the CSSD saw energy giants like Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell working hand-in-hand with environmental groups like PennFuture to create a 15 performance standards across air, water and climate concerns. But while some believe that this new partnership will combine economic benefit with environmental protection, others are less open to the coalition.
"WHOOO-HOOO, Frackers and Environmentalists collaborate!" wrote anti-drilling website No Fracking Way, which offered sarcasm, rather than genuine praise, on their website.
Others, like the Sierra Club, voiced their frustration more directly. "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," Deb Nardone, a Sierra Club campaign director, told The Wall Street Journal. Ms. Nardone also called the new plan "akin to slapping a Band-Aid on a gaping wound."
And so it seems that the best efforts of the energy industry to please the environmental community have failed. Some seem pacified by the short-term solution, but others want a permanent end to fracking and the extraction of shale natural-gas. But with the economic benefits of the nation’s latest energy cash grab somewhere in the billions of dollars, the Obama administration has been faced with a tough decision: fix the economy, or protect the environment.
To make matters worse, environmental organizations weren’t the only ones to reject the CSSD.
Though Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella wrote an email to the Associated Press saying that the energy company does “commend the groups for coming together,” Mr. Pitzarella also wrote that Range Resources had politely declined the invitation to join the coalition themselves.
Range Resources is not alone; five of the other top ten drillers in Pennsylvania have also declined to join the CSSD, outweighing the four drillers that have.
The Washington Post editorial board may have called the new plan "a heartening breakthrough in the war over fracking" whose new rules are "a large step toward striking the right balance, and everyone involved deserves credit," but don’t expect everyone to take the silver lining approach; in this debate, the lines are clearly drawn.