A PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILL from Toronto-area NDP MPP Peter Tabuns to ban fracking in the province passed second reading Thursday by a 29-18 vote with support from the governing Liberals.
“Water or gas — that’s our choice,” Tabuns explained to the House. “We can’t have both.”
Threats to groundwater contamination as found in Pennsylvania this month; links to triggering earthquakes in Ohio and Alberta; questions over the perilous, ponzi-like investment structure supporting the fracking industry. It all led Tabuns to believe the substantial risks the sector poses for Ontario far outweigh any potential rewards in jobs or cheaper natural gas prices.
Despite overwhelmingly voting in favour of the legislation, some Liberal MPPs suggested the bill was not only unnecessary but harmful. Mississauga-area MPP Bob Delaney reminded the House that 50 per cent of Ontarians currently heat their homes with natural gas from shale deposits in other jurisdictions. He questioned how rational it is to risk growth in the province’s oil and gas sector by banning the practice forever. Delaney later voted against the bill, the lone Liberal to do so.
The government’s strongest argument against the bill was that no fracking applications are currently before the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to look for shale gas. [Why is the Ontario government changing it’s spin? Refer below. Does Ontario have any requirement for companies to “apply” to frac oil and gas wells in Ontario?] If and when an official application is made, MNRF Minister Bill Mauro assured the House the government would not approve any requests without proper consultation with the public, Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders.
Tabuns’ bill would ensure that no future government could change their minds and open Southern Ontario up to hydraulic fracturing beneath Lake Erie.
[Too late? Refer below
Snap below of some of the energy wells in Ontario taken April 5, 2015:
Ontario has “~3,600 records” for “Well treatments and stimulations. Includes details on the treatment type, treatment pressure, treatment volume, depth interval, and formation.” ]
But “that is no protection at all,” [The Ontario energy well map makes that clear!] Tabuns said. It leaves the regulation of a harmful resource practice up to the whim of the government, and governments change, he said. Attitudes within governments also shift over time. Tabuns’ bill would ensure that no future government could change their minds and open Southern Ontario up to hydraulic fracturing beneath Lake Erie, located at the northwestern tip of the highly-productive Marcellus Shale deposit stretching from Tennessee to New York. [Since Ontario has already been allowing high volume frac’ing for years, does that render this new bill meaningless?]
Moreover, while it’s true no formal applications to explore or drill in Ontario have been tabled, Tabuns told A\J he has spoken with numerous energy companies who claim they are actively talking about shale gas extraction with North American governments, Ontario included. It may simply be a matter of time before companies look to tap Ontario’s gas potential, however commercially uneconomical it may currently appear.
Tabuns’ bill has already touched a nerve with energy-sector players in and out of the province. The Ontario Energy Association called the bill “premature” and “unnecessary” while Union Gas, a $5.8-billion subsidiary of Houston-based Spectra Energy, recently blanketed MPPs with a letter blasting Bill 82 and urging all members to vote against it.
The bill simply stokes “fear and uncertainty” about natural gas, reads the May 5th letter from Union Gas government affairs director Matthew Gibson. Moreover, regulation around natural gas extraction “belongs in jurisdictions where that practice is actually taking place,” they note.
… Predictably, Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives came out strongly against the Bill, positioning themselves as defenders of the province’s oil and gas sector.
Bob Bailey, a Tory MPP from Ontario’s refining capital, Sarnia, said Bill 82 “sends the wrong message to industry” that millions in investment and thousands of jobs are unwanted. Former Tory leader Tim Hudak opined that he wished there was more fracking potential in Ontario while John Yakabuski warned if the province closed the door on fracking now it may never be pried open again.
Despite passing second reading, Tabuns’ legislation still faces a steep climb toward becoming law. The Liberals enjoy a majority government, controlling all bills that come before committee. Bill 82 may languish on the order paper rather than see the light of day at General Government committee.
If you believe fracking has no place in Ontario’s energy landscape, write your MPP and request that Bill 82 be called at committee for further debate. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
2015 04 03: Ontario Minister Natural Resources/Forestry Bill Mauro says “there are currently no applications before the Ministry requesting approval to…use high-volume hydraulic fracturing” but the Ministry hasn’t defined “high volume” so how would he know?
GPO leader Mike Schreiner is calling for all party support for a private member’s bill to ban high volume hydraulic fracturing to produce natural gas from shale in Ontario.
Fracking in Ontario presents a real threat to our water, health & climate. A 2014 poll showed that 75% of Ontarians support a moratorium on fracking.
Tomorrow the Legislature will vote on a bill that would ban fracking in Ontario. From what we’ve heard, Premier Wynne and the Liberals are planning to vote against Bill 82. And today the Ontario Energy Association sent letters to all MPPs pushing them to vote against it. Use our easy tool (available at bit.ly/1c6KWKW.) to send a letter to Premier Wynne, asking her to protect our water and have Liberal MPPs vote in favour of Bill 82 to ban high volume hydraulic shale gas fracturing in Ontario.
WIN! Ontario bill banning fracking passes second reading by Brent Patterson, May 8, 2015, Council of Canadians
The Ontario Legislature could vote to place a moratorium on fracking in the province. The Council of Canadians supports Bill 82, legislation that would place a moratorium on fracking in Ontario. … NDP environment critic Peter Tabuns introduced a private member’s bill to have Ontario follow the lead of Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New York and ban fracking. Tabuns said fracking poses substantial risks to ground water, which is combined with toxic chemicals under extreme pressure to fracture shale deposits to free up natural gas for extraction.”
At that time, “Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro said the Liberal government will not impose a ban on fracking. [Mauro says,] ‘We won’t be going forward with a moratorium.”
But yesterday, in surprising turnaround, the Liberals joined the NDP in voting 28-19 in favour of the bill. All Progressive Conservative MPPs and one Liberal voted against the bill.
That means the legislation survives and will proceed on to third and final reading at Queen’s Park. … And Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui adds, “If passed, this bill would signal the continuing wave of moratoria on fracking that we are seeing in Eastern Canada. A ban on fracking is needed to prevent the public health risks associated with fracking chemicals, avoid runaway climate change and combat declining water sources. We need to stop fracking to protect the waters of the Great Lakes once and for all.”