The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), a collaborative between environmental organizations and energy companies to encourage prudent and responsible development of shale gas resources in the Appalachian region, announced today its independent third-party certification and verification program is now accepting applicants.
As CSSD opens its doors to begin reviewing applications and auditing companies who apply for certification, it has hired Bureau Veritas, a global leader in independent testing, inspection and certification, as its initial auditor. All producers operating in the Appalachian region are eligible to apply at this time.
Certification is based on the Center's 15 initial performance standards that were developed to reflect leading industry practices. Companies can seek certifications in Air & Climate, Water & Waste, or both, concurrently. Auditors will evaluate the applicant's operations to the standards that are specific to the certification a company chooses. Evaluations are expected to take three to six months, with a summary of a completed audit report made accessible on CSSD's web site.
"Through the accreditation and selection of our first auditing firm, Bureau Veritas, and the launch of our certification and verification process, we begin the real work of fulfilling the promise of CSSD's performance standards that we introduced in March of 2013," said Andrew Place, Interim Executive Director at CSSD.
"There's real integrity to this effort, but the work doesn't stop here," said Jared Cohon, President Emeritus, Carnegie Mellon University and Chairman of CSSD's Board of Directors. "CSSD will add new performance standards over time and will periodically update the existing standards to ensure they continue to set a new, higher bar for operators in the Appalachian region."
The key components of the comprehensive certification and verification process include:
- 15 Initial Performance Standards – Focused on the protection of air and climate, water and waste.
Certification and Verification
- Auditor Standards and Accreditation – These standards establish the requirements for impartiality, knowledge, skill and resources to meet the scope, scale and geography of operations being evaluated. To be accredited, an auditing firm must meet these qualifications.
- Guidance for Third-Party Auditors – Guidance for auditors details the specific measures that must be met to provide assurance that the producer is operating in conformance to CSSD's 15 performance standards; including specific instruction on the kinds of data, reporting and documentation producers must provide.
- Producer Performance Verification Protocol – The producer verification protocol sets out the frequency and intensity of the field and office audit process; providing for extensive document review, on-site visits and follow-up activities. Verification of conformance to the standards is evaluated both at the time of initial certification as well as throughout the life of the two year certification period.
In practice, the audit process will center on a comprehensive auditor checklist which details each facet of operations that will be evaluated. The findings are then detailed in a final audit report.