Wheeler says he wouldn’t ‘change a single word’ of 2014 fracking report by Francis Campbell, January 12, 2018, The Chronicle Herald
Nothing much has changed since David Wheeler attached his name to the final hydraulic fracturing report for the province in 2014.
“I don’t think that I’d change a single word of that report,” Wheeler said Friday of the 387-page report his 11-member panel delivered to the Energy Department. “It remains as relevant today as it did when it was published.”
Wheeler, the former president of Cape Breton University who ran unsuccessfully as an NDP candidate for the Halifax Armdale seat in the 2016 provincial election, said the recently released Energy Department onshore petroleum atlas that identifies 4.3 trillion cubic feet of shale gas under the province doesn’t change the validity of the report.
“The recommendations the panel made at that point were hammered out after a lot of hours by a lot of hard-working people and the government at the time and since has not acted on any of those recommendations,” Wheeler said. “It was always the case, even before the report, that the Department of Energy was working on this map. They continued working on it and they published it and there were few surprises in it.”
Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan said Thursday that a government moratorium on fracking that was passed into legislation in 2014 remains in effect but added that the atlas, that shows a wealth of onshore natural gas resources in the province worth between $20 billion and $60 billion, makes the issue worth talking about.
“What I would say now is that the government, if it is going to pursue this and I understand that Mr. MacLellan is quite keen to have a dialogue around this, then the government should also be reacting to the recommendations we made, which is before anyone does anything there needs to be some baseline environmental analysis and studies done,” Wheeler said. “The province needs to enact a community right to give or withhold consent for these kind of activities, which is vital if we are going to have any kind of sustainable resource development.”
The report specifically recommended a significant period of learning and dialogue at both the provincial and community levels, along with independently conducted scientific research with public participation. The research would look into economic, social, environmental, and community health impacts of all forms of energy production and use, the report recommended. [Ya, use Nova Scotians as frac guinea pigs.]
MacLellan pointed out that new and ever-changing technology might make the hydraulic fracturing process less invasive today. The fracking process pumps large quantities of fluids underground at high pressure to fracture rock formation and stimulate the flow of natural gas or oil.
“I am surprised by that,” Wheeler said of the changing technology argument. “I think most of the technology that was being applied when we reported is pretty much the same technology available today. The case for and against the technology is probably very similar regardless of whether you are a supporter or an opponent of hydraulic fracturing. The province has to do some work to reassure people that health and environment can (be protected) [pump out more CAPP and Synergy Alberta propganda] and communities have the right to say no. Those were the principal conclusions we reached and there is no point to have any kind of discussion about this possibility unless those safeguards are put in place.”
Both the Progressive Conservative and New Democratic parties weighed in Friday.
“It’s been over three years since the McNeil government brought in this blanket ban,” John Lohr, the PC leadership candidate from Kings North, said in a release. “I believe it’s time to start having a conversation about developing our onshore gas resources, and that can’t happen when government refuses to let communities and companies even talk about the possibility.”
Lohr said that instead of conducting government studies or allowing industry to carry out research as suggested in the Wheeler report, the McNeil government chose an outright ban.
“It’s wrong to stifle jobs and economic development,” Lohr said. “If we can keep talented Nova Scotian workers here we owe it to them to give this issue a serious second look.”
The NDP said it’s time that the government proclaim the anti-fracking legislation that passed in 2014.
“The fracking ban is an important policy to protect Nova Scotia’s natural environment and our water sources,” said Lenore Zann, the party’s environment critic. “Nova Scotians are against fracking. The Liberal government should be focusing their energy on creating new green and sustainable industries.”
Wheeler doesn’t suspect any departure from the anti-fracking sentiment that prevailed in the province three years ago, an attitude evidenced by 11 high-energy public meetings convened by the panel.
“The people who attended those meetings, on the whole, I would say 95 per cent, probably were quite opposed to the technology. Against that, public polling suggested that there was a significant majority against it in the Nova Scotia population,” Wheeler said.
“Clearly, as each year passes, the case to be made for any fossil fuel decreases because federal policy, international policy say that days are numbered for exploiting fossil fuels. I think it would be very hard to imagine that the government would pursue this at this time.
“But who knows, Mr. MacLellan seems keen so maybe there will be a debate.” [Emphasis added]
Fracking ban still on: energy minister by Francis Campbell, January 11, 2018, The Chronicle Herald
The province’s energy minister says government is not considering changing the legislated fracking ban in the hope of bringing to market a portion of the 4.3 trillion cubic feet of shale gas identified in a recently released Energy Department analysis.
“We are at the status quo, the fracking ban is still in effect,” Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan said Thursday.
Hydraulic fracturing is the process of pumping large quantities of fluids at high pressure into underground rock, fracturing the rock formation and stimulating the flow of natural gas or oil. A 347-page report from a panel led by David Wheeler recommended in 2014 that much more study was needed to determine the health, environmental, economic and community impacts of fracking before endorsing the practice in the province. The province passed legislation in November 2014 to ban fracking.
But that does not ban conversations about fracking possibilities, especially in light of findings in the newly released onshore petroleum atlas that natural gas resources in the province are worth between $20 billion and $60 billion. Much of the identified shale gas is located in the Windsor-Kennetcook and Cumberland sub-basins.
“If we begin to hear from stakeholders and feedback from the province as a whole that we are looking to revisit this conversation, we’ll certainly do so,” MacLellan said. “This (atlas) information is vital to stimulate that discussion.
“Supporters and proponents of the oil and gas sector have been very vocal the last number of days talking about the benefits. I hope that they continue to do that because they are representing the interests of their industry, and I think that’s a good thing. The more information that they can share about fracking and the potential of shale gas and what methods are available to get us there, if that is a conversation that resonates with Nova Scotians, they should continue to have that discussion. That’s up to industry but the fracking ban will stay in effect until such time as we receive different direction from the people of the province.”
Environmental groups have all the information they require to offer a fracking opinion.
“The conditions under which Nova Scotia banned fracking have not changed,” said Robin Tress of the Council of Canadians. “People wanted fracking banned because it is dangerous for our water and dangerous for our health, the climate and our communities. None of those things are different. There is even better evidence now that it is dangerous. Nothing has changed from our perspective.”
Stephen Thomas, energy campaign co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, said it’s time to move past fossil fuels.
“There are now nearly 300,000 jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency in Canada, which is already out-pacing that of oil and gas development,” Thomas said.
Barb Harris of NOFRAC, the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition, said talking about potential fracking is a step backward.
“Communities across the province made it completely clear they do not want to see fracking in Nova Scotia,” Harris said. “Instead of investing any more money or time in supporting the fracking industry, let’s put our energy into building industries that meet 21st century realities and needs.”
MacLellan said new technologies and upgrades in methods of extracting shale gas may be part of any revamped conversation.
“That’s the standard perceived method, the high-pressure fracking, but industry players that I’ve spoken to have said there are a number of ways, 15 or so methods that would be considered fracking,” the minister said. “But the technologies are ever-changing. Some groups have reached out to suggest that the new technologies make it much less invasive.”
Environmental activists are encouraged by the the 2017 mandate letter from Premier Stephen McNeil to Iain Rankin, advising the new environment minister to “continue to enforce the moratorium on fracking for onshore natural gas.”
MacLellan said the moratorium legislation left room for a component of research and testing around fracking.
“First of all, the oil and gas sector would have to identify that in fact these deposits do exist,” MacLellan said. “Our atlas gives us an indication but they would have to confirm that, No. 1, and secondly to find a deposit that has the ability to flow. The maximum potential has been identified with the atlas but there certainly would be a significant amount of planning, project work and an extensive level of investment to even verify that this shale gas is there and that it is attainable.” [Emphasis added]
N.S. fracking ban to remain despite gas potential, premier says by Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press, January 11, 2018, CTV News
HALIFAX — Despite an analysis that highlights the potential for billions of dollars worth of onshore gas in Nova Scotia, Premier Stephen McNeil says his government has no intention of lifting its ban on hydraulic fracturing.
The Nova Scotia Onshore Petroleum Atlas lists the economic potential at between US$20-billion and US$60-billion.
The analysis, which began in 2013 and was recently released by the Energy Department, says that based on available geological data, the Windsor and Cumberland sub-basins are the areas that hold the most potential for hydrocarbons.
But McNeil said Thursday that it’s simply one report that will give Nova Scotians a chance to discuss fracking and onshore gas exploration. The Liberals passed legislation banning fracking in 2014, but have not proclaimed it.
“At this time there is no discussion to lift that ban,” he said. “The information that has come out I’m sure will lead to great public discussion.”
McNeil said barring any new information, the government remains concerned about the potential impacts fracking could have on potable water tables given the province’s geology.
Most of the potential, about US$40 billion, exists in shale gas which would require hydraulic fracturing to extract it.
McNeil said he wasn’t concerned that the province is passing up an economic opportunity as offshore reserves of natural gas dwindle.
“No, you always weigh these things as they come forward as we did when the ban was put in,” he said. “As the ongoing discussion happens across our province, we like everyone else will be part of that and look at it, but I can tell you the issue of removing the ban has not got to my desk.”
The atlas estimates Nova Scotia is sitting on up to seven trillion cubic feet of hydrocarbons when conventional natural gas reserves are included.
In spite of the government’s reassurances, a coalition of environmental groups issued a news release this week warning of the potential interest for lifting of the ban in light of the atlas findings.
Stephen Thomas, energy campaign coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, called the atlas a waste of “time, money and expertise” given the existing ban on fracking.
“We need to move beyond fossil fuels and invest time and money in renewable energy development, improving energy efficiency, and meeting our climate targets in a way that benefits Nova Scotians and our growing green economy,” said Thomas.
A study commissioned by the government and released in 2014 said fracking shouldn’t be allowed for the foreseeable future.
The report, by former Cape Breton University president David Wheeler, said more independent research was needed on health, environmental and economic impacts. [Emphasis added]
N.S. urged to revisit fracking ban as report pegs onshore natural gas at $20B or more, Energy group says opportunity outlined in Energy Department atlas too large to ‘dismiss outright’ by Paul Withers, January 9, 2018, CBC News
Nova Scotia’s Liberal government is being urged to revisit its ban on hydraulic fracturing following the release of a new Energy Department analysis that found onshore natural gas resources in the province are worth between $20 billion and $60 billion. [How many billions did they over “estimate” and who provided them with the “estimates?” Industry?]
Most of it — up to 4.3-trillion cubic feet — is in shale gas, which would require hydraulic fracturing to recover. The Liberals passed legislation in 2014 banning the practice, also known as fracking.
Ray Ritcey, CEO of the Maritimes Energy Association, said he hopes the report will prompt the government to revisit its opposition. “I think that’s too large of an opportunity to dismiss outright,” he said.
The onshore petroleum atlas has been in the works since 2013. The report was released this week because of a freedom-of-information filing by the business website AllNovaScotia.com. [Or has it just been staged by Synergy Alberta, the energy department and industry?]
Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan called the untapped potential “enormous,” but said Tuesday the Liberal government has no intention of lifting the fracking moratorium. [Smart government!]
“No change in policy at this point, but looking forward to the discussion,” MacLellan told CBC News. “We made this decision clearly a number of years ago based on Nova Scotians’ wishes. If they’ve changed, we’ll certainly have that discussion with the people who put us here. But at this point the ban on fracking will remain.”
The analysis concludes the Windsor and Cumberland sub-basins hold the most hydrocarbon potential, based on available geological data.
In addition to shale gas, the study estimates there may be be another 1.4-trillion cubic feet of coalbed methane gas.
When conventional natural gas is included, the report says the province is sitting on seven-trillion cubic feet of hydrocarbons — the equivalent of three Sable Offshore Energy Projects.
“That represented 20 years of work for members of my association,” said Ritcey. [Really? Or just another lie?]
The Exxon-Mobil project near Sable Island was Canada’s first offshore natural gas development. Gas started flowing at the end of 1999 but it is being decommissioned, as is Nova Scotia’s other offshore natural gas project, Encana’s Deep Panuke.
Environmentalists say keep the ban
Not surprisingly, environmentalists are pushing back against the suggestion that Nova Scotia should revisit its ban on fracking.
Robbin Tress, of the Council of Canadians, said there’s been no change since extensive public consultations earlier in the decade that led up to the ban.
“It is still a dangerous industry that threatens our health, our water and our ability to address climate change. None of those things have changed since 2014,” said Tress. “I think the province has a responsibility to maintain their ban on fracking.”
Fracking impact on communities unclear: Nova Scotia study
Environmentalists are taking comfort in the September 2017 mandate letter from Premier Stephen McNeil to his new environment minister, Iain Rankin.
It said Rankin is expected to “continue to enforce the moratorium on fracking for onshore natural gas.”
On Tuesday, Stephen Thomas, of the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, welcomed the province’s commitment to maintain the ban and dismissed the atlas.
“It is a waste of time, money and expertise to create and promote an atlas for something we’ve decided, as a province, to prohibit,” he said. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to
2016 06 15: Nova Scotia government still can’t define fracing! Delays on NS frack regulations could be political, Heavily redacted documents show options being presented to government behind the scenes
2015 12 04: After more than a year, Nova Scotia’s Energy Dept can’t figure out what a community is, and still can’t define high volume hydraulic fracturing “because of the implications that certain words in the definitions can have.”
2014 09 07: Divine intervention or diversion? Nova Scotia slams door shut on high volume horizontal fracing, but opens it wide for other known invasive, contaminating experiments. “These did occasionally contaminate water resources,” CAPP says
2014 07 23: Why are Nova Scotians not demanding that frac patent holder Dr. Maurice Dusseault be removed from the frac panel, his paper where he pushes the Alberta Regulator as model be struck, and a formal apology issued to the public?