Fracking review launched by federal agencies

Opponents fear contamination of groundwater
Jason Fekete
Ottawa Citizen
Date published: 
Thu, 2011-09-22

The federal government is launching two separate reviews on the science and use of hydraulic fracturing by the energy industry in Canada and its impact on the environment.

The move comes as jurisdictions around the world, including Quebec and New York state, have halted "fracking" operations or have launched reviews on the use of the technique to tap shale gas reserves and other fossil fuels.

Environment Minister Peter Kent already has said the government is monitoring shale gas extraction and has the power to regulate its development, although it's mostly an area of provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

He has now asked the Council of Canadian Academies - a not-for-profit agency that provides science-based studies - for an independent, expertpanel assessment "of the state of scientific knowledge on potential environmental impacts from the development of Canada's shale gas resources."

Kent also has ordered department officials to develop an internal work plan to examine any potential environmental consequences of shale gas development, according to his parliamentary secretary, Michelle Rempel.

Fracking involves injecting water laced with chemicals or other liquids under high pressure underground - usually through horizontal wells - to break tight rock formations thousands of metres beneath the surface. Its use has come under fire from property owners and environmental groups, who fear fracking is contaminating groundwater and eroding land values.


Fracking, shale gas and health: A case for precaution

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