Petition Supporting a Legislated Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas in Nova Scotia

          To mark the official launch of the Petition Supporting a Legislated Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas in Nova Scotia, Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic Canada Chapter presents a page dedicated to everything you need to know about fracking. To accomplish this, we at the Sierra Club have created the Guide to Hydraulic Fracturing in Atlantic Canada. This guide outlines the fracking process, the risks fracking poses (to air, water, and our economy), as well as a look at fracking in the four Atlantic Provinces. 

What is Fracking?

One method of natural gas exploration, hydraulic fracturing (or, fracking) poses a growing threat to Canadian fresh water resources here in Atlantic Canada. Fracking involves the drilling of a bore vertically and horizontally into shale or coal-bed deposits. The vertical bore is extended horizontally into the shale bed to maximize shale use. The tail of the horizontal pipe is perforated, allowing for the injection of fracking fluid into the shale bed. Sandor ceramic beads suspended in the fluid (called "proppants") hold open the cracks in the shale bed, allowing the natural gas to navigate back to the surface for recovery.

The fracking fluid typically ~98% freshwater and proppant (sand or ceramic beads) and 1-2% chemical additives. The chemical additives have functions ranging from friction reducers, biocides, and scale inhibitors; many of which are toxic to human and animal consumption.

Fracking Risks

What does fracking do to our water?

Fracking has implications for both the purity and quantity of freshwater:

  • Water quantity: A fracking operation in Two Island Lake in B.C. requires a projected 2.12 million cubic metres of fresh water: the extraction of groundwater for fracking has caused a drawdown in surface waters.
  • Water quality: Chemicals contained in fracking fluid can enter the water table, with the potential for groundwater and surface water contamination.

What does fracking do to our air?

The fracking process impacts local air quality as well as contributing to the atmospheric greenhouse gass (GHG) content. Locally, large volumes of diesel trucks volume clogs the roads of communities as they transport equipment, millions of litres of water, and thousands of litres of chemicals to the fracking site. The diesel fumes from these trucks in conjunction with diesel powered drilling rigs reduce the ambient air quality of the region. The fracking rigs themselves release large amounts of GHG's from escaped and intentionally vented methane.

Where is fracking happening in Atlantic Canada?

Current fracking operations in Atlantic Canada include:

  • Sussex, New Brunswick- where there is the potential for 480 wells;
  • in P.E.I. Corridor Resources began fracking in 2007;
  • Canadian Imperial Venture Corp. will be exploring the potential of shale gas this fall in Newfoundland; and
  • fracking has not been ruled out by Petroworth in the Lake Ainslie region of Cape Breton. To follow progressions in Lake Ainslie, a Facebook group has been created:

More Resources on Fracking:

Fracking is a subject that is impacting communities throughout the world and has stirred a wealth of controversy and discussion. Below, we have provided a number of resources on fracking including videos, images, reports, and links to groups involved in the fracking debate. Our goal is to inform the people of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada to protect our communities from being fracked.

Fracking Videos


  • This video describes the process of natural gas exploration with relation to water/chemical use as well as the effects of exploration on the human and natural environment. The stages of natural gas exploration are divided into 4 categories: drilling, fracturing, gas processing, and waste handling. The video is lengthy (45+ minutes), so be sure to watch it when you have the time (but make the time to watch it). The regulations and case studies in the video are American, but the issues and processes readily apply to Canada.
  • A clip from the award winning documentary GasLand by Josh Fox.
  • The CBC documentary Burning Water examines theshale gas industry in Alberta and the impacts fracking has had on local watersheds and people.
  • A presentation given by Dr.Tony Ingraffea of Duke University discussing fracking.
  • The hidden cost of the US hydraulic fracturing boom discusses the shale gas boom in the U.S., but easily applies to Canada. This video also features a discussion with Dr. Ingraffea.  


Articles, Reports, & Studies


  • The report Fracture Lines, prepared by the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, provides a thorough examination of the fracking industry in Canada and the need for stronger Canadian Governmental regulation.
  • The report Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Water, Health, and Climate prepared by DeSmogBlog Society of British Columbia examines shale gas with an emphasis on the role of government lobbying in promoting fracking.
  • The Robert Howarth study Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations examines the footprint of shale gas with respect to methane released into the atmosphere. The study finds that the footprint of shalegas over a 20 year timeframe is up to 20% greater than of conventional oil and gas.
  • An article by Stephen Osborn et al, Assessing water quality near gas extraction sites, published in the The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines the incidence of well contamination in sites surrounding fracking operations.
  • The following article, A Collosal Fracking Mess, by Christopher Bateman was pusblished in Vanity Fair and provides a case study of a community in Pennsylvania impacted by fracking.
  • An article warning about the coming makeover of the fracking industry by the big Oil and gas.
  • An article reporting on France's legislated ban on hydraulic fracturing.
  • The CBC special report: B.C.'s Shale Gas Boom.
  • An article from the Huffington Post comparing the decline in air quality from fracking to L.A. smog.



Stop Fracking from Happening in Your Watershed. Click here to get involved.


For more information on how you can get involved with the fight against fracking, please contact:

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director, Atlantic Canada Chapter – Sierra Club Canada
902-444-3113 or

Join the Sierra Club Canada - Atlantic Canada Chapter Water Committee -

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