Several national and regional environmental groups should seriously reconsider their relationship with the nation's biggest oil and gas companies, the Sierra Club said last week, following a new partnership in which gas companies and environmental groups will work together to establish "strict" fracking guidelines through a new Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development.
The environmental groups who signed on to the partnership include the Environmental Defense Fund, the Heinz Endowments, the Clean Air Task Force, EQT Corp. and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and will work with big oil and gas companies such as Shell Oil and Chevron Appalachia in the new center.
The project will cover Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio — "where a frenzy of drilling is under way in the huge, gas-rich Marcellus and Utica Shale formations," the Associated Press reported Friday.
"If Shell Oil, Chevron Appalachia and other companies are found to be abiding by a list of stringent measures to protect the air and water from pollution, they will receive the blessing of the new Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development, created by environmentalists and the energy industry," AP reports.
However, as the Sierra Club was quick to point out, no amount of fossil fuel extraction, no matter how safe it is deemed, could be safe for the planet, based on what we know about the current fossil fuel induced climate crisis.
"We know that our continued reliance on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels, like natural gas, will not solve the climate crisis, even with the best controls in place," said Deb Nardone, a Sierra Club campaign director, who called the new plan "akin to slapping a Band-Aid on a gaping wound."
"The majority of natural gas must stay in the ground if we want any chance of avoiding climate disaster," Nardone said.
"This deal in no way represents the interests or agreement of the people being harmed by fracking in Ohio," said Sandy Buchanan, the director of Ohio Citizen Action also added. "A hydraulic fracturing peace treaty? Not so fast, my friend."
As AP points out, the Sierra Club recently acknowledged that from 2007 to 2010, it had secretly accepted about $26 million from individuals or subsidies connected to natural gas leader, Chesapeake Energy.
However, the group has decided to refuse all such donations since 2010 and has since launched a campaign against the fracking industry.