Gas drilling standards should have a broader scope

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The Nature Conservancy echoes the PG editorial board's support for higher standards for gas drilling and the creation of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development ("Quality Drilling: It's Time for Higher Standards on Marcellus Shale," March 31). We agree that collaboration among all stakeholders -- including industry, conservation groups and local communities -- is vital to effective environmental standards for shale development.

The conservancy believes standards to preserve forest habitats and species of Pennsylvania and the Appalachian Region should be an integral part of efforts to ensure environmentally safe energy development. A scientific assessment by the conservancy and its partners in 2010 found that Pennsylvania alone could be home to more than 60,000 gas wells and 25,000 miles of new pipeline by 2030, which could fragment hundreds of thousands of acres of intact forest. The Nature Conservancy is working with stakeholders to take on-the-ground steps that reduce the impact of future development on natural systems and local communities in the Appalachian Basin.

As CSSD builds on its initial performance standards for air and water quality, we encourage broadening their scope to address impacts on land, habitat and species. We look forward to coordinating with CSSD as we continue to collaborate with local residents, industry, other conservation groups and government agencies on standards that address the full range of potential environmental impacts of shale development. Use of such standards, transparently monitored and verified, should help improve the environmental performance of energy development in our region, a goal that CSSD and The Nature Conservancy share.

WILLIAM KUNZE
Pennsylvania Executive Director
MICHAEL POWELSON
North America Energy
Program Director
The Nature Conservancy
Harrisburg


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