The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) on Thursday issued its first certification to Chevron Appalachia LLC.

Established in early 2013, the Pittsburgh-based center brought together an eclectic group of energy companies, philanthropic foundations and environmental organizations to ensure that shale gas resources are safely developed in the Appalachian Basin (seeShale Daily, March 25, 2013).

After taking nearly a year to finalize voluntary performance standards that go beyond the minimum federal and state oil and gas regulations in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, CSSD began accepting applications in January (see Shale Daily, Jan. 22).

“The awarding of certification recognizes hundreds of hours of diligent and careful work on the part of many at Chevron, but also countless others from environmental organizations, philanthropic foundations and other energy companies who dedicated so much to define a process for setting and verifying voluntary and other uncompromisingly high performance expectations in shale gas development,” said CSSD Executive Director Susan LeGros, who was named to the position earlier this year.

Certification, which is valid for two years, is based on CSSD’s 15 performance standards. Operators can seek certifications in air and climate, water and waste, or both. Prior to its first certification, the center’s critics were skeptical of its goals. At the time it was announced, some companies declined an offer to join, while executives of a few environmental groups in the region scoffed and said the venture would fail (see Shale Daily, March 25, 2013).

The CSSD’s partners include the Clean Air Task Force, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, among others. Industry participants, including Royal Dutch Shell plc, Consol Energy Inc., Chevron Corp. and EQT Corp. were thought likely to receive some of the center’s first certifications.

Chevron applied for certification in April and was audited by independent firm Bureau Veritas, which conducted staff interviews, dozens of visits to drilling sites and submitted its final report to CSSD for review and certification.

The center will continue to monitor Chevron’s practices for adherence to its standards. After two years, the company can apply for renewal.