Just a few days after MDN editor Jim Willis visited Pittsburgh, a small group of 15 anti-drillers made fools of themselves in front of EQT Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh. Their (latest) cause? They don’t like the new Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) and EQT’s participation in it. They believe the CSSD legitimizes "dirty" fossil fuels, like clean-burning natural gas, and since they (irrationally) hate all fossil fuels, any effort at ensuring mining of those fuels is done safely is tantamount to killing Mother Earth. Wackos.
To illustrate the "folly" of big, nasty drillers cooperating with eco-nut organizations like GASP and the Heinz Foundation, this small group of true believers (local college students with time on their hands, from a Fruit Loops organization called the Energy Action Coalition) staged a mock wedding in front of EQT…
A coalition of Pennsylvania and Ohio students and residents staged a mock wedding today at the EQT Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh to condemn the misguided union of corporations and environmental nonprofits through the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD). Oil and gas companies, such as Shell, Chevron, and CONSOL Energy, and environmental nonprofits, such as the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), and Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), began working together in March of 2013 in order to create a set of voluntary regulations for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” The demonstrators have asked all environmental nonprofits to divorce themselves from CSSD due to irreconcilable differences.
CSSD’s central mission is to promote the idea of “sustainable shale,” but fracking is fundamentally unsustainable. Burning fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate destabilization and oil and gas are finite resources. The gas industry is well aware of this, having admitted that they can only provide gas for a limited amount of time. The concept of sustainable shale is an oxymoron. The gas industry is using their partnership with environmental nonprofits to co-opt the brand of sustainability and hide the destruction caused by fracking.
“CSSD is poised to greenwash fracking and congratulate companies for extraction that is anything but sustainable. In our region, the boom and bust of the fossil fuel industry has left landscapes poisoned and vacant. The last thing we need is the false hope of sustainable shale development,” said a Pittsburgh resident who asked not to be named.
Massive amounts of methane leak into the atmosphere during the life-cycle of gas production, exacerbating aclimate change.1 Fracking is economically unsustainable as well; communities that focus on extraction experience boom-bust cycles and are less prosperous in the long term.2 There are also significant health impacts associated with fracking. A recent study found that risks of cancer were significantly elevated for people who live within half a mile of a fracking well.3
Madeleine Dorner, the bride at the mock wedding, said, “The only future that we have is a sustainable one, and there is no room for fossil fuels in it. We have to transition to renewable energy immediately, not just move from one dirty fossil fuel to another.”
CSSD has created performance standards that rely on the voluntary participation of oil and gas companies. Companies that agree to these standards will receive a certification from CSSD – a paper pat on the back with no legal teeth to ensure compliance. Moreover, the regulations leave many of the most egregious problems unaddressed, “… including radioactivity, methane migration, drill cuttings, community disruption, forest fragmentation, LNG, and compressor stations.”4
2 Headwaters Economics, Fossil Fuel Extraction as a County Economic Development Strategy: Are Energy-Focused Counties Benefiting?, revised 11 July 2009.
*We Are Power Shift (Apr 15, 2013) – Rustbelt Students Call Out Center for Sustainable Shale Development