What the Frack?
What the Frack?
Fracking is a water-intensive process that poses numerous risks to Canada’s groundwater and surface water supplies. Without strong regulation, there is a high risk that water levels will be depleted at an unsustainable pace. Accessing shale rock uses a lot of energy and requires that wells be dug past the fresh water zone. Any cracks or damage to the protective barrier between the well wall and the protective casing risks water contamination – in fact, several incidents of contaminated domestic or drinking water wells have already been reported in the United States. There is currently no standardized procedure for the disposal of wastewater from this practice. This water is high in mineral and salt content, and also contains traces of chemicals and heavy metal particulates. As such, it must be dealt with properly.
Government-led investigations into the risks of this process are needed NOW, not after the industry has reached its full momentum. Up until this point, no Canadian federal or provincial regulators have taken a vocal stance on this issue. In fact, the National Energy Board has tended to downplay potential environmental impacts. The Canadian federal and provincial governments have a bad record of giving environmental assessment responsibilities for energy projects to industry regulators, rather than to environmental agencies. It is imperative that this doesn’t happen where shale gas production is concerned.
Fracking News and Resources:
Fracking, Shale Gas and Children's Health: Toxins and Vulnerable Populations Prevent Cancer Now, August 15, 2012
Nova Scotia delays Fracking decision for 2 years CBC News, April 17, 2012
Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream, and the fight against fracking, An Ounce e-Newsletter, Spring 2012
When Cowboys Cry: In today’s Wild West, energy corporations are the new outlaws, Orion Magazine, May/June 2012
A Rock and a Hard Place: The energy industry calls fracking a game changer. Environmentalists compare it to coal and oil., Walrus Magazine, December 2011
Fear of fracking: How public concerns put an energy renaissance at risk, Globe and Mail. March 9, 2012
Fracking, shale gas and cancer: Health risks at every step, An Ounce, Winter 2012
Ohioans Demand Fracking Moratorium at Ohio Statehouse Rally, January 10, 2012
Fracking likely linked to groundwater pollution in U.S. CBC News, December 8, 2011
Fracking operations increase risk of drinking water contamination: new study, Media Release, May 11, 2011
Shale Game: Playing with unknowns underground, Orion Magazine, June 2010
Fracking, shale gas and health: A case for precaution, An Ounce, Summer 2011
Fracture Lines: Will Canada’s water be protected in the shale gas rush?, Munk School of Global Affairs, October 2010
JUNE 4, 2012
In the three weeks since the #BlackOutSpeakOut campaign was launched by Canada’s leading environmental groups (Sierra Club Canada, CAPE, CPAWS, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Greenpeace, Nature Canada, Pembina Institute, West Coast Environmental Law and WWF Canada) tens of thousands of Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast have joined us!... Read more »
Submission to the Senate Committee on Energy
Re: Bill C-38
John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
Thursday, May 31 201
... Read more »
We are just a week away from #BlackOutSpeakOut day (June 4th). I can tell you the campaign momentum is building! The list of participating organizations is over 100 and growing! Maude Barlow just told me The Council of Canadians is also joining the protest. All across the country Canadians are recognizing that silence is not an option in face of the war on nature and democracy.
This week here in Ottawa we have two events:
Event #1:... Read more »
It has been a busy few weeks here in Ottawa and across the country. People everywhere are talking about devastating changes to environmental law and regulation (Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Fisheries Act) undemocratically crammed into the federal budget.... Read more »
Groups are slamming the federal Conservative government's plan to speed up the environmental review process, suggesting it will become a rubber stamp that won't protect the health and safety of Canadians.
"This is about bulldozing things through over the objection of people or without thinking it through," the Sierra Club's John Bennett told CTV's Power Play.
Streamlining the environmental review process was a key plank in the Tories' first majority government budget, released Thursday.
But Bennett, the executive director of the environment watchdog, said the changes will result in weaker environmental assessments, as well as projects being approved without a full understanding of the social, economic and environmental impacts.... Read more »
OTTAWA -- The Conservatives have taken their battle with environmentalists to new levels of lunacy, some groups said Tuesday, after a Tory senator suggested they would accept funding from Al Qaeda.
"Let me ask you this, honourable senators: If environmentalists are willing to accept money from Martians, where would they draw the line on where they receive money from? Would they take money from Al Qaeda, the Hamas or the Taliban?," Senator Don Plett, the party's former president, asked in the Senate.
"It's jaw-droopingly bizarre," Devon Page, executive director of EcoJustice told The Huffington Post Canada late Tuesday.... Read more »
OTTAWA -The federal government handed industry everything it wanted with its report on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act which, if implemented, will deprive Canadians of their democratic right to participate in decisions affecting them and their children. The report was issued by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development after holding a series of hurried hearings last year.
... Read more »
The Conservative government has quietly begun looking into the charitable status of environmental groups in the Senate.
Senator Nicole Eaton is sponsoring an inquiry into what she calls "funding by foreign foundations." Eaton began her debate Tuesday by laying out what she considers to be a threat to the Canadian economy.
"This inquiry is about master manipulators who are operating under the guise of charitable organizations in an effort to manipulate our policies for their own gain," she said in the Upper Chamber.
Environmental groups don't see it that way.
"My fear is that they will just try to smear us and then walk away," said John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada. "And that they're hoping to frighten off U.S. foundations from supporting us... And they're going to try to turn off the public from supporting us."... Read more »
After vowing to take on radical environmentalists determined to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, the Harper government has released a new anti-terrorism strategy that targets eco-extremists as threats.
With his announcement this week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has increased the concern among environmentalists that Ottawa regards them as implacable adversaries to be monitored and battled, rather than well-meaning advocates to be consulted.
“This is just one more step in their attempt to marginalize the environmental movement and to quiet its voice,” John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada, said Friday. “It’s an indirect suggestion that somehow environmentalism is attached to terrorism and that’s just wrong.”... Read more »
In a report released yesterday outlining the federal government’s new counter-terrorism strategy, Public Safety Canada listed environmentalists among other “issue-based domestic extremists” that could pose a threat to Canadians.
Responding to the report, Sierra Club Canada director John Bennett said this portrayal is aligned with officials’ attempts to silence environmental groups opposed to major energy projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline.
“We are one of the few segments of Canadian society that has continually stood up to the present Conservative government and been able to be effective at raising issues," said Bennett.... Read more »
(Reuters) - With mounting evidence linking hundreds of small earthquakes from Oklahoma to Ohio to the energy industry's growing use of fracking technology, scientists say there is one way to minimize risks of even minor temblors.
Only, it costs about $10 million a pop.
A thorough seismic survey to assess tracts of rock below where oil and gas drilling fluid is disposed of could help detect quake prone areas.
But that would be far more costly than the traditional method of drilling a bore hole, which takes a limited sample of a rock formation but gives no hint of faults lines or plates.
The more expensive method will be a hard sell as long as irrefutable proof of the link between fracking and earthquakes remains elusive.
... Read more »
This is my last blog of the year so I want to begin by sincerely thanking you for being part of the most exciting year of my campaigning career. In 2011 we probably had one of highest participation rates for email campaigns in all of Canada. Again, thank you.
Today I want to tell you about a disturbing pattern emerging in the public dialogue on environmental issues that has the potential to do significant damage to the environmental movement and our ability to positively influence public opinion. Influencing public opinion, after all, is how we have achieved the great change in how the natural environment is viewed and treated, so it’s important to understand what is happening.... Read more »
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may have linked fracking — a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells — to groundwater pollution for the first time.
The EPA announced Thursday that it found compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals in the groundwater beneath a Wyoming community where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals.
The finding could have a chilling effect in both Canada and the U.S. where various levels of government are trying to determine how to regulate the controversial process. Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and release natural gas and oil trapped in the rock formations.
The industry has long contended that fracking is safe, but environmentalists and some residents who live near drilling sites say it can poison groundwater and release toxic gas into the air.... Read more »
OTTAWA – Sierra Club Canada is calling for a nation-wide moratorium on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) by the natural gas industry until federal and provincial governments can put in place proper regulations to ensure public safety and protect water supplies and the environment.
“If reports of natural gas infiltrating drinking water wells on properties neighbouring fracking operations wasn’t enough reason to act, then recent earthquakes in Britain should be,” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “What will it take for Canadian regulators to wake-up?”... Read more »
It is "highly probable" that shale gas test drilling triggered earth tremors in Lancashire, a study has found.
But the report, commissioned by energy firm Cuadrilla, also said the quakes were due to an "unusual combination of geology at the well site".
It said conditions which caused the minor earthquakes were "unlikely to occur again".
Protesters opposed to fracking, a gas extraction method, said the report "did not inspire confidence".
Six protesters from campaign group Frack Off climbed a drilling rig at one of Cuadrilla's test drilling sites in Hesketh Bank, near Southport, ahead of the report.... Read more »
We got the word last night. The federal government won't be funding the Canadian Environmental Network (CEN) any more. The network consists of 600 groups from coast to coast to coast.
The news came about the same time Heritage Minister James Moore tweeted the announcement of his new War of 1812 iPhone App - part of a $29 million program to celebrate a 200 year old war.
CEN is a coordinating body that doesn't take stands. It just helps environmental organizations network and facilitates communication with the federal government. It’s the very definition of non-partisan. ... Read more »
ORWELL – Sierra Club Canada – Atlantic Canada chapter is asking for a ban on fracking for natural gas, an end to fish kills and degradation of rivers through nitrates and sediment run off, and an investment in sewage treatment for Charlottetown as three key commitments needed from candidates in the P.E.I. provincial election. Sierra Club Atlantic members gathered on P.E.I. last weekend to celebrate their 10th anniversary and to talk about key issues in the region. One of the key areas discussed was the need to protect Prince Edward Island's precious water ways and fresh water resources.... Read more »
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.... Read more »