CNX-DEP Agreement Raises Transparency Standards for Pennsylvania’s Gas Industry

The Shapiro Administration touted a “first-of-its-kind” collaboration between the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and CNX Resources on Thursday. The Washington County-based natural gas producer will voluntarily strengthen its environmental monitoring and chemical disclosure practices as an example to the rest of the industry, which would be held to similar standards under a rulemaking currently being prepared by DEP.

For the second time in recent weeks, PEC President Davitt Woodwell joined the governor at an event announcing the initiative.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates that partnership, continuous improvement, greater public transparency, and strong regulatory standards are not just aspirational – they are attainable and essential toward meeting the commitment made to all Pennsylvanians under Article I, Section 27 of our state constitution,” Woodwell said, referring to the Environmental Rights Amendment guaranteeing the public’s right to clean air and water, as well as to the preservation of natural resources.

In a press release, the Shapiro Administration described the collaboration as part of Governor Shapiro’s “all-of-the-above energy strategy” for securing Pennsylvania’s status as an energy leader while protecting public health.

The program implements recommendations from a 2020 report published by then-Attorney General Shapiro’s office, which found that natural gas companies were routinely violating environmental law and that government agencies overseeing the industry systematically failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect Pennsylvanians from the inherent risks of industry operations.

Under the agreement, CNX will publicly disclose all chemicals intended to be used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing before they are used on site. The company also will engage in intensive air and water quality monitoring and provide open-sourced, real-time emissions data to stakeholders.

As part of the collaboration, DEP will be able to collect data at two future CNX well sites, including air emissions before, during, and after development of the new wells. CNX also will expand its no-drill zones near sensitive sites during the data collection phase.

“By voluntarily committing to these measures,” Shapiro said, “CNX is leading the industry in showing how we can reduce pollution and ensure the health and safety of our communities while still maintaining Pennsylvania’s central role in the nation’s energy economy.”

On October 20, PEC joined the Governor and DEP Secretary Richard Negrin at the site of the 100th well plugging project completed under the Shapiro Administration. In a speech, Woodwell noted that Pennsylvania’s responsibility for its energy legacy isn’t just dealing with the problems of the past — it confronts us every day and will continue to do so for decades to come.

“We often talk about legacies in our work: legacies that we’ve been left to deal with, and the legacies that we will leave behind us,” Woodwell said in his October speech. In response to Thursday’s announcement, he said the new standards and reporting measures will lay the groundwork for a safer energy industry that will benefit current and future generations of Pennsylvanians.

“We agree with Governor Shapiro that Pennsylvania can be a leader in the clean energy transition,” Woodwell said. “But it’s not a given, nor is it a challenge that can wait for tomorrow. It’s about doing things right today. Reducing methane emissions, strengthening waste control measures, and enhancing monitoring and public reporting will pay dividends now and in the future. We applaud the commitments made today by the Governor and CNX, and look forward to working with all stakeholders to see these critical initiatives effectuated.”