NS: Fracking panel unlikely to recommend continued moratorium

By Andrew Wagstaff, The Amherst News
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Continuing the moratorium will be a political decision, and the goal of the independent review is to help inform those decisions, says David Wheeler, who is currently leading the study on hydraulic fracturing.

David Wheeler, who is leading the Nova Scotia Hydraulic Fracturing review, took part in a public consultation meeting at Amherst Town Hall on July 22. The report is expected to be in the provincial government’s hands next month.

[AMHERST, NS] – The provincial government should have an independent review on hydraulic fracturing in its hands sometime next month, and a continuation of Nova Scotia’s moratorium on the practice is not likely to be found on its pages.

That was the message from David Wheeler, who is leading the review, and spoke to those gathered for a public consultation meeting at Amherst Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

“The panel will not be recommending a moratorium, I do not believe,” Wheeler told the crowd of about 50 people crowded into council chambers.

Continuing the moratorium will be a political decision, and the goal of the review is to help inform those decisions, he explained.

“This is a political choice we don’t believe, as a panel, that we have the power to make,” said Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University. “You are more than welcome to take our review, which puts in highly cautionary recommendations, and say to your MLAs that this looks and sounds like a moratorium.

“That’s your democratic right, but ultimately the provincial government has to make that call,” he added.

What he did reveal were several recommendations that will be in the report, all with the proviso that the review panel is “not saying this activity should proceed now in our province, nor are we saying it should necessarily proceed in the future.”

If foundational research proceeds far enough, and if communities welcome the prospect of fracking, the panel will recommend seismic testing and exploration “when full, prior and informed community consent is in place.”

Not everyone was convinced the panel would come out on the side of environmental protection, with many pleading with Wheeler to recommend continuation of the moratorium, which has been in place in Nova Scotia since 2012.

One of those was Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, who said it is premature to even discuss the science of fracking when Nova Scotians have not even been asked if they are willing to allow their water to be used for such a practice.

“We are against fracking, and fracking will never get the consent of aboriginal women,” she said. “It’s going to be a big battle for this government if it wants to end that moratorium.”

Wheeler revealed survey figures showing 53 per cent of Nova Scotians are opposed to hydraulic fracturing, 39 per cent are in favour, and eight per cent are undecided.

Organizations: Cape Breton University

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians

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Recent comments

  • Geoffrey May
    July 23, 2014 - 20:55

    J.David Hughes , was research manager for the Geological Survey of Canada , very sorry for the error

  • Geoffrey May
    July 23, 2014 - 17:15

    Wheeler's panel is a farce . It includes two men who work in the gas industry and a third who in 20211 applied for his own fracing patent .Wheeler's review features an "expert panel" who aren't experts ,"on-line discussion forums", which do not allow for any on-line discussion, and "discussion papers" with no opportunity for discussion. Wheeler has left it to the lead author of each discussion paper to decide whether to make changes based on public response to the paper . The panel' issued a discussion paper on socioeconomics that includes no numbers at all , and a discussion paper on wellbore integrity that disagrees with an article in the literature written by the same lead author! The discussion papers are poorly referenced and based on wishful thinking,false assumptions and blinkered ignorance . Wheeler is currently presenting the absurd idea that shale gas is a forty year industry when the International Energy Agency has concluded that all shale plays in the US will be exhausted by 2024 . J David Hughes research manager for 32 years for the Geological Society of Canada found that in 2012 US shale companies spent $42 billion to produce $32.5 billion worth of gas .Based on public records ignored by Wheeler's review, Texas economist Deborah Rogers found that in 2008 , Fort Worth Texas received $50 million in royalties from 44 shale wells, but in 2012 only $23 million from 379 wells, and no expectation of royalties after 2013, yet Wheeler keeps pretending that this is a profitable industry