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Environmental group limits ties to shale center

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm •  Published: August 6, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Another environmental group has distanced itself from the Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development, a hotly-debated partnership of major energy companies, green groups and foundations.

PennFuture, a leading Pennsylvania environmental group that helped found the center, is no longer a "strategic partner."

The Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit in Buffalo, New York, disclosed the shift Wednesday and also criticized the center's staff and funders for ties to the oil and gas industry.

PennFuture spokeswoman Elaine Labalme said it will still participate with the center when it believes it's worth providing input.

The center says its members will follow voluntary standards that are tougher than existing state laws. The idea has been criticized by some environmentalists who say a voluntary program is no substitute for tough state or federal rules, and by some in industry who say there's no need to go beyond existing regulations.

The center's current 11-member board includes energy companies Chevron, Shell, EQT and Consol Energy, along with the Clean Air Task Force, the Environmental Defense Fund, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Christine Todd Whitman, the former New Jersey governor and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

Susan LeGros, the center director, questioned the Public Accountability Initiative's characterization of the center. She said the center "believes engagement and collaboration among a diverse group of stakeholders with differing perspectives is the best way to ensure prudent and responsible shale gas development." LeGros wrote in an email that the center doesn't support the report's "extensive amount of speculation."

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