Opposition to shale gas development has been fueled by fears that fracking could adversely affect our drinking water resources. A just-released study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should help douse such fears. The exhaustive, 998-page report "did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States."
Largely overlooked in the shale gas debate that has taken place in Quebec in recent years between industry proponents and environmentalist groups were the farmers who might have benefited from having natural gas wells on their land.
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant seems poised to follow through on a campaign promise to institute a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. News reports suggest he'll implement that moratorium before Christmas. Quite a lump of coal for the people of his province in need of additional jobs and higher incomes.
Politicians are free to ignore the science, safety and history of hydraulic fracturing. But if the incoming New Brunswick government sticks with its election promise, it will outlaw (temporarily, at least) one of the more innovative ways to extract oil and gas in the 21st century. The science and risk-reward ratio are both on the side of hydraulic fracturing. The potential for a more dynamic economy is staring New Brunswick politicians in the face.
No reasonable person would dismiss the risks of hydraulic fracturing for gas and oil out of hand. The processes certainly have the potential to cause a variety of environmental ills if done improperly. However, no rational person would fail to understand that Canada's economic wellbeing is tied to the production of fossil fuels, particularly clean-burning natural gas.
As shale gas has become the defining election issue for New Brunswickers going to the polls Monday, the Council of Canadians, along with several allies in the anti-shale gas movement, released the results of a questionnaire sent to all parties asking them to clarify their positions.
"The situations we've encountered in every case has been an independent contractor to a company who signs on to a company [saying] they will dispose of the waste in an appropriate manner...and then behave badly, try to save themselves some money by coming to our dump instead of going to the proper spot."
The Quebec Government announced that it will update its energy policy. Public consultations are already underway. The Government also announced a commission to study ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I learned French in 30 days. Well not really. It's probably fairer to say I'm still trying to perfect my English. Over two years ago I embarked on a tour of Quebec to give translated presentations on our industry to what was then quite a hostile population. Unexpectedly these presentations, while emotionally draining, were surprisingly effective.
A recent study lays the blame for the lack of success of shale gas in Quebec at industry's home page. A Canadian Press article more or less agrees.