NWT Chapter Raises Fracking Concerns
The following letter to the editor was published in News North on Monday, May 13, 2013.
Fracking research a must to reduce impact
Thank you for your balanced editorial on fracking in the May 6 edition of News/North (“Onward and downward”). The issue of horizontal fracking, including the fracking of relatively shallow wells, will become a major issue in the NWT over the next few years, initially in the Sahtu region and then in the Deh Cho.
Water is essential to life. Depending on our age, between 50 to 70 per cent of our own bodies consist of water.
When probing for life on other planets, scientists look solely for any evidence of water. Because it is essential (some would say sacred), water must be considered a human right and a public, not private, resource.
Fracking is an industrial activity that uses large amounts of freshwater, contaminates that water, and then allows a significant volume of that toxic water to remain in the ground, where it can interact with groundwater, flow through faults in the ground, and potentially re-enter our surface water system.
That is one reason why many jurisdictions have either banned or placed a moratorium on fracking. Other reasons include increased greenhouse gas emissions, significant disturbances to surface lands, and increased earthquake activity.
Yes, more research and conclusive science is needed to fully assess the risks and longterm environmental impacts and costs of fracking. Simply allowing companies to begin horizontal fracking in the Sahtu or other NWT regions on a trial basis is not adequate or appropriate. Proper assessments need to be done.
The whole point of environmental assessments and regulatory oversight is to ensure that required research is carried out, full disclosure of proposed industrial activities is made (including what chemicals are being used), potential risks are thoroughly assessed and mitigated, and effective monitoring and reporting procedures are put in place for identification and public disclosure of any problems that might arise.
Oil and gas companies operating in the NWT should not be resisting public oversight of their activities, including environmental assessments.
The oil and gas is not going anywhere, so proper research and planning before extracting it through fracking, to reduce negative impacts on our water and our lives, makes sense.
Peter Redvers, Co-chair, Council of Canadians, NWT chapter