Center for Sustainable Shale Development created

On March 20, 2013, after more than two years of discussions, several energy companies (Shell, Chevron, CONSOL Energy, and EQT Corporation), environmental groups (Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Task Force, Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), Citizens for Pennsylvania’ Future
(PennFuture), and Pennsylvania Environmental Council), and philanthropic foundations (Heinz Endowments and William Penn Foundation) collaborated to form the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) in Pittsburgh. The CSSD will provide oil and gas producers with certification of performance standards for shale development. Fifteen initial performance standards have been established to ensure safe and environmentally responsible development of the Appalachian Basin’s shale gas resources. These standards, which limit flaring, encourage maximum water recycling, and reduce the toxicity of fracking fluid, are the foundation for CSSD’s independent, third-party certification process.

Water Performance Standards include:
  • Operators shall maintain zero discharge of wastewater into the waters of Pennsylvania and surrounding states. 
  • Operators shall maintain a plan to recycle flowback and produced water, for usage in drilling or fracturing a well, to the maximum extent possible. Within two years of implementing these standards, operators must recycle a minimum of 90% of the flowback and produced water by volume. 
  • Within one year, operators must contain drilling fluid and flowback water in a closed loop system at the well pad, eliminating the use of pits for all wells. 
  • Operators must conduct a comprehensive characterization of subsurface geology that demonstrates the presence of an adequate confining layer(s) above the production zone that will prevent adverse migration of hydraulic fracturing fluids. 
  • Operators must develop and implement a plan for monitoring existing water sources. 
  • Operators shall design and install casing and cement to completely isolate the well and all drilling and produced fluids from surface waters and aquifers. Operators shall not use diesel fluid in their hydraulic fracturing fluids.
  • Operators will publically disclose the chemical constituents intentionally used in well stimulation fluids. If a chemical ingredient is entitled to trade secret protection, the operator shall note in its disclosure the trade secret protection and will disclose the relevant chemical family name. 
  • Operators shall design each well pad to minimize the risk that drilling related fluids and wastes come in contact with surface waters and fresh groundwater.
Air Performance Standards include:
  • Beginning on January 1, 2014, an Operators must direct all pipeline-quality gas during well completion of development wells and re-completion or workover of any well into a pipeline for sales. 
  • Operators must adhere to strict requirements relating to flares and flaring. 
  • CSSD encourages and supports the conversion of diesel drilling rig engines and diesel fracturing pump engines to either dual-fuel, electricity or natural gas. 
Review a complete set of the standards

This post was prepared by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713 651 3662) fromFulbright's Energy Practice.