This could be a model

Industry and environmental groups do not often see eye-to-eye. But a group of companies in the shale oil and gas industry has decided to take its own step toward improved stewardship.

Companies including Chevron, EQT Corp., Consol and Shell have formed the Center for Sustainable Shale Development in Pittsburgh, in order to turn best practices into a certification for environmental performance in our region. The CSSD is a collaboration with a host of environmental groups, including the Clean Air Task Force and Environmental Defense Fund, to create a set of standards for industry adoption.

Fifteen areas covering water, air and climate are targeted in the group’s initial set of standards – which are meant to exceed those required by government regulations.

“Things like post-operations water monitoring,” are being considered, said Andrew Place of EQT Corp. “I don’t believe that’s handled in any regulatory space in the region, and I think that’s a great piece for us to be working on.”

When a company seeks certification, it will be required to submit to an audit using CSSD guidelines. And certifications will be updated every two years, leaving little wiggle room for a company tempted to backslide on its own environmental standards.

CSSD methods could serve as a model for the industry across the country. It is heartening to know such an effort has its roots here, where it will no doubt do a great deal of good.