The formation of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) illustrates much that’s wrong with today’s fracking debate.
By attempting to address the need for stronger standards, the effort validates claims that existing state oversight of oil and gas extraction is inadequate to protect impacted communities.
But CSSD also validates local communities’ mistrust of fracking supporters by excluding drilling-impacted communities from the CSSD formation and decision-making structure. The CSSD has publicly launched a plan to certify drilling, but has not publicly disclosed its verification process.
Furthermore, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, by its very name, implicitly and erroneously assumes that a finite resource can be sustainable. The only sustainable energy choices are conservation and renewable sources like wind and solar power.
Earthworks supports certification with tough standards, civil society participation in governance and standards development — in particular, affected community participation — and a commitment to independent, third party verification.
But even the best voluntary systems cannot substitute for science-based, publicly-informed regulatory oversight backed by strong enforcement. Unfortunately, as we have determined through extensive research of state enforcement data, no such oversight or enforcement of the oil and gas development industry exist.
That is why Earthworks believes that no new drilling should be permitted, or supported by CSSD, until such oversight and enforcement exist.