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NGOs Coming to Terms with Fracking?
Environmental watchdogs including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have partnered with several energy companies to create the Center for Sustainable Shale Development.

The Center describes itself as "an independent organization whose mission is to support continuous improvement and innovative practices through performance standards and third-party certification." The organization is focused "on shale development in the Appalachian Basin" and "provides a forum for a diverse group of stakeholders to share expertise with the common objective of developing solutions and serving as the center of excellence for shale gas development."

As described in a Washington Post editorial, the Center is intended to function as an "independent standard-setter that will certify when companies comply with its rules." According to the Post, "The rule-writing process is ongoing, but the center's initial offering is impressive, outpacing the government's regulatory efforts and addressing many of the major environmental concerns."

Use of voluntary industry standards in lieu of command-and-control regulation offers substantial possibility for achieving environmental gains at lower costs. It is worth noting that the President's cybersecurity Executive Order emphasizes use of voluntary consensus standards and industry best practices.

Whether the Center succeeds in promoting further clean and safe development of natural gas remains to be seen. It is clear, however, that there is a growing recognition among government, industry and civil society stakeholders that alternatives are needed to cumbersome and expensive regulation which discourages economic growth.

See Center for Sustainable Shale Development

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