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Environment


Ohio environmental groups reject the shale center as "greenwashing"
But the Center for Sustainable Shale Development says its a genuine attempt to find common ground with gas drilling and the environment
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT BILL COHEN


Reporter
Bill Cohen
 
Center for Sustainable Shale Development: Common ground or greenwashing?
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In The Region:
For the past week, a new coalition of environmentalists, energy companies, drillers and philanthropic groups has been touting itself as a breakthrough in forging agreement over the controversial natural gas drilling technique called fracking. But major Ohio environmental groups are calling the new coalition a fraud. They say they won’t have anything to do with it. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen has the latest.
Ohio environmental groups reject "pact on fracking"

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The Center for Sustainable Shale Development was unveiled in Pittsburgh last week, and the coalition includes some strange political partners like Chevron, Shell, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. It's generated 15 initial performance standards for safe and sustainable shale development, and says they're a breakthrough for the drilling in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The center's interim director, Andrew Place, says the group has found "common ground.

But not with many Ohio environmental groups.

Green lipstick on a pig
"For them to ... take the position that they were speaking on behalf of the environmental community in Ohio  is just a complete fabrication," says Cheryl Johncox of the Buckeye Forest Council. "It is what we would call 'greenwashing' at its worst."

She says the center has not talked to any Ohio environmentalists she knows of, that voluntary standards have no accountability, and she and dismisses the center as "green lipstick on a pig."

Keith Dimoff, director of the Ohio Environmental Council also is not endorsing the center. He says voluntary standards have no teeth and don't cover more issues of importance, including disposal wells that take in used drillng fluid.

But Place says national groups fighting for clean air and water issues that are key to Ohio have endorsed the center's work. 
He says the current standards are "a starting point... as technology moves, the standards will move."

He also says some environmentalists will never compromise on shale drilling.
"There's a segment of the environmental community that wants moratorium ... on what we are doing," Place says. And it's "very difficult to change their position. (They have a) philosophical inability to see the benefits of what we're doing."

Legislators have OK'd new rules most businesses say they can live with and that many environmentalists say don't safeguard enough. 
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