MUST WATCH: Nova Scotia Fracking Review July 28 Public session in Whycocomagh by Neal Livingston, August 2, 2014
Dr. Wheeler: “So, I am more than happy to answer, ya, why Maurice Dusseault, who is an engineer, who invents things all the time, might have a patent, that he believes might reduce the environmental impacts.
Audience: He does have a patent, you probably know that for a fact.
Dr. Wheeler: “Let me speak, please”
Audience: “You know that for a fact, don’t you, that he has a patent.”
Dr. Wheeler: “I do know for a fact. Let me speak, let me explain how things work with engineers in academia.”
Audience: “We don’t want to know!” (Angry outbursts)
“Explain how you deal with that conflict of interest.”
Dr. Wheeler: “Ahhhh, the conflict is, ah … if it exists, is declared.”
Audience, shocked faces, laughter:
“It does exist!”
“Why didn’t you declare it months ago?”
“You didn’t declare it when you appointed him did it?”
[Dr. Dusseault’s frac patent appears it will make impacts worse]
Description of Dr. Dusseault’s Patent on Canadian Intellectual Property Office website:
As well, concerns have been expressed regarding the potential environmental impact from the use of synthetic additives in hydraulic fracturing solutions. … In one aspect, the fracturing fluids employed in this process comprise of water, saline or water/particulate slurries that are essentially free of additives.
 The terms “induced fracture” or “generated fracture” as used herein mean: a fracture or fractures created in the rock formation by man-made hydraulic fracturing techniques involving or aided by the use of a hydraulic fluid, which in the present process is intended to be clear water along with additives such as friction reducers to aid the hydraulic fracturing process. [Emphasis added]
CBU president denies conflict in fracking review by Tom Ayers, August 1, 2014, Cape Breton Bureau
David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University and head of the province’s hydraulic fracturing review committee, was fending off allegations of conflict of interest on Friday raised by an online publication based in British Columbia. And he got solid backing from Energy Minister Andrew Younger, who said in an interview Friday evening there is no conflict of interest.
According to an article on The Tyee website, a university-owned company called LearnCorp International, which Wheeler chairs, trains oil and gas workers for ExxonMobil, a company that that promotes fracking.
On Friday afternoon, Wheeler posted a response on the university’s website, which includes the home page of the Independent Review on Hydraulic Fracturing in Nova Scotia, saying there is no conflict. [Does saying so now, a year too late, have any credibility?]
Although he is chairman of LearnCorp by virtue of his position as university president, Wheeler told The Chronicle Herald in an interview there is no conflict because there is no benefit to the university or LearnCorp from heading the fracking review in Nova Scotia. [But, is there benefit to the oil and gas industry if fracing comes to Nova Scotia, notably if Dr. Wheeler’s panel conveniently leaves out the most damning information about harms from fracing and recommends the dreadful Alberta model?]
“I can’t imagine it would” benefit LearnCorp, he said. “Most of their projects are in different parts of the world.”
Wheeler also said while he didn’t think disclosure around LearnCorp was relevant when he was first appointed to head the fracking review, he would include that in the final report along with other projects he has worked on in the oil and gas sector, as well as for environmental organizations on the other side of the fence.
“None of those links, to me, represent any kind of conflict of interest. [Dr. Wheeler can’t see the corruption for industry’s greed?] The reason I’m involved in this process, and the province came to CBU to run the process, is to provide a public service to Nova Scotians, to look at the evidence. [And conveniently leave out the most damning evidence?] And anyone who knows me or knows anything about my record on environmental and social issues ought to know that there’d be no question of conflict of interest or bias in my role, but I can’t stop people creating innuendo and I can’t stop people trying to make links that don’t really exist.”
Wheeler said he was unaware of whether the university teaches fracking in its petroleum engineering technology courses, but he said the topic likely comes up in various courses, as you would expect from a university.
“It could come up in courses on history, on political science, it could come up in anything,” he said. “It’s a topic that is obviously of significant concern, but I’m not aware of us having any programs that are particularly linked to this process.”
Lucia MacIsaac, head of LearnCorp and an instructor in the university’s petroleum engineering technology department, said LearnCorp does not teach fracking.
In his written response to the online article, Wheeler wrote his LearnCorp role is no more a conflict than his previous work for Greenpeace International, the Sierra Club, the Pembina Institute or Pollution Probe.
He also wrote cheekily that he “confirms he has personal contracts with Ultramar and Irving for home heating and he owns a motor vehicle, which runs on gasoline (various suppliers).”
The statement also says as university president, Wheeler welcomes any financial support for students, including from the oil and gas sector. [Get ’em bought and controlled by big oil young?]
He also said the university’s board of governors were aware of his roles with the fracking review panel and LearnCorp, but linking the two roles never came up.
Wheeler said the Tyee article is mostly accurate, but the headline and lead paragraph are “completely erroneous” because LearnCorp is not owned by the university, but by a provincial entity called Cape Breton University Foundation.
According to provincial legislation, the foundation that owns LearnCorp can be used for fundraising, investments or other work that benefits the university.
LearnCorp, according to the university website, is a private enterprise that delivers training and education for international students in various countries, primarily in the oil and gas sector. For the last 12 years, that has included training for ExxonMobil employees in the U.S., Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Russia.
In the August 2013 provincial announcement naming Wheeler as head of the review, former NDP Minister of Energy Charlie Parker gave Wheeler authority to select the panel, which could include experts in oil and gas engineering, among others. The province also said Wheeler has been widely published in the field of water quality and health, and for years advised the World Health Organization on drinking water quality standards. He also oversaw the provincial process that led helped create Efficiency Nova Scotia and the former NDP government’s 2010 renewable electricity plan.
Ultimately, Wheeler told The Herald on Friday, it is important to get past the distractions and get the proper information about fracking and its possible effects in order to inform public policy. [Then why is Dr. Wheeler’s panel leaving out the most important and damning harms caused by fracing?]
“Nova Scotians need to understand all of the facts.” [Absolutely! Remove the frac-patent holder off the panel, apologize, start over and provide to the public “all the facts,” appropriately comprehensive instead of profit-by-frac-patent-selective.]
The province’s energy minister said he only became aware of Wheeler’s connection to LearnCorp on Friday, but decided it would have no effect on the review panel. Wheeler is “supposed to reflect the public meetings,” Younger said. “He’s also done a lot of work for environmental organizations, so you could argue that there’s a conflict on the other side, too, just as easily. [Annual reports and synergizing (brainwashing and controlling opposition) functions of many environmental organizations, excellent example is the Pembina Institute, show them to be funded and controlled by the oil and gas industry. Working for environmental organizations does not make one credible, integral, ethical, transparent, honest, or accountable. Behaviours and actions speak louder than resumes.]
“I’m not going to make any kind of judgment on that,” Younger said. “I haven’t seen the report yet, I’m not even going to guess what we will do. We will wait until we see his final report and then … fairly shortly aftter that we’ll announce what the government decision is.” [Is government going to decide? Or is industry going to tell the government what their decision will be?] [Emphasis added]
SOME COMMENTS POSTED TO THE ABOVE ARTICLE:
“Dr. Wheeler, your credibility is being questioned with no apparent logical explanation to clarify your awkward position. I think it’s best you step down and tend to your students. You just might impact the University’s need for recognition and respect. Your institution requires more help than your opinion in fracking!”
“Wheeler is wrong in his claim that he isn’t in a conflict of interest. His analysis is more of a simplistic attempt at distraction using irrelevancies than a legitimate argument based on an understanding of what a conflict of interest is. It is not relevant whether he personally might be able to be arrive at a reasonable conclusion notwithstanding the conflict as he is arguing, Nor is it relevant that other universities might have similar conflicts. The issue is that in order for the province and the citizens to be sure the results are untainted by conflict, there needs to be no actual conflict. In Wheeler’s case, if he were to give and unflattering analysis of fracking, it could harm the interests of the university he is in charge of so he would be inclined to give a more favourable analysis of fracking. It is a pure conflict, plain and simple. It is intellectually dishonest of Wheeler to say otherwise.”
[Refer also to:
COMMENTS TO THIS ARTICLE WELL WORTH READING: University Handling Public Fracking Review Owns Firm Training LNG Workers, Questions about conflict of interest in Nova Scotia by Andrew Nikiforuk, August 1, 2014, TheTyee.ca
A Maritime university charged with conducting an independent and public review of hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia owns a company that trains oil and gas workers for Exxon Mobil, a key promoter of hydraulic fracturing and one of the world’s largest energy companies.
And David Wheeler, chair of Nova Scotia Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel, also serves as the unpaid director and chair of that company.
LearnCorp International, a private firm wholly owned by the Cape Breton University Foundation, lists Wheeler as chair of the Board of Directors.
The Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies also identifies Wheeler as one of seven directors as well as chairman.
Last year the Nova Scotia Department of Energy commissioned the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment at Cape Breton University to hold an independent review on the social, economic, environmental, and health implications of hydraulic fracturing.
Although the Nova Scotia Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel describes David Wheeler as the president and vice-chancellor of Cape Breton University, it makes no mention of his public responsibilities with LearnCorp International. Nor does it disclose that the university owns a firm training workers for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals.
LearnCorp ‘a global leader in petro-training’
LearnCorp International, which displays the photograph of an LNG tanker on its website, calls itself “a global leader in petroleum training.”
A university website adds that it “has been meeting the demands of ExxonMobil for technical training, curriculum development and capacity building, in numerous countries throughout the world from the United States to Malaysia, from Papua New Guinea to Russia.”
Much of the training has directly involved Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities.
North America’s shale gas industry, which pressure injects liquids underground to crack open shallow and deep rock formations, is now advocating for the construction of LNG terminals due to low natural gas prices on the continent.
To date two LNG terminal sites have been proposed for the province. The gas would either come from fracking operations in the Marcellus Shale in the United States or eventually from coal and shale formations in Nova Scotia.
Shale producers are now pushing LNG terminals because they poured so much natural gas onto the domestic market that the industry collapsed the price. Many firms lost billions of dollars.
Wheeler the ‘non-executive chair of LearnCorp’
When the province appointed Wheeler as head of the public review, it noted that the academic had “been widely published in the field of water quality and health, including groundwater pollution control.” But it omitted his ties to LearnCorp International.
Margo MacGregor, program administrator for the review panel, explained to The Tyee that Wheeler sits as “the non-executive Chair of LearnCorp” and that “the rules of the Foundation imply that the President of CBU has to be the Chair for governance reasons.”
She described the company as a “non-profit subsidiary of the CBU Foundation which in turn is a creature of the Province of Nova Scotia.”
MacGregor added that the review panel “corresponded on the topic with an environmental organization several months ago to their apparent satisfaction and it is certainly not a secret.” [Then why did the university or Dr. Wheeler not openly advise the public about this on their frac panel website? Hiding something from the start? Hoping no one would connect the big oil bias dots?]
She said Wheeler’s involvement with LearnCorp is “worthy of disclosure in the final report, along with many other things that result from his previous jobs and current responsibilities at CBU.”
Wheeler’s panel advised go slow
At recent public meetings, where citizens have voiced intense opposition to the intrusive industry, Wheeler has indicated that Nova Scotia needs more time to study unknowns and uncertainties about hydraulic fracturing.
“As a panel we are not saying, based on our deliberations so far that this activity should happen now or that it should occur in the future. We are not saying that we are eliminating the possibility but there will have to be some significant tests. We are saying that before anything happens there should be a significant period of learning and dialogue around this topic,” said Wheeler this week.
Throughout North America the industry has created controversy due to extensive groundwater contamination, methane seepage, air pollution, land fragmentation, property devaluation, road destruction, earthquakes, public health issues and persistent regulatory neglect. In addition little comprehensive science exists on the novel industry and its complex impact on geology and groundwater.
To date Canadian energy regulators have uniformly failed to do proper groundwater monitoring let alone isotopic fingering of gases produced by the industry to track long-term contamination from hydraulic fracturing. None do cumulative impact reviews on developments that puncture landscapes with thousands of wells.
More questions of conflict
The Tyee recently revealed that another member of Nova Scotia’s review panel, Maurice Dusseault, holds a patent on hydraulic fracturing and therefore stands to benefit financially by the industry.
In a related matter New Brunswick Energy Minister Craig Leonard recently defended Dusseault’s appointment to that province’s Energy Institute saying the well-known petroleum engineer had widespread experience on the mechanics of fracking. “That’s a key part of where their expertise comes from, they have been in the field, they understand what is taking place and so I think it’s critical to have that expertise there and that’s why he is on the advisory committee,” Leonard told the CBC.
Critics, however, contend that there is a huge difference between being a knowledgeable academic on a subject versus holding patents on the process being assessed, or chairing a company that directly benefits from oil and gas activity in an era of rising concerns about destabilizing climate change.
They argue that the issue is not malfeasance but simple and timely public disclosure of possible conflicts.
Transparency lacking: ethics pro
“The concept of conflicts of interest seem to be lost on many public officials here in the Maritimes,” said Donald Bowser, the president of a Halifax company that promotes transparency and integrity in government industry around the world. “Any public official should recuse themselves from exercising discretion on matters where they have a private interests or those around them (family, friends, business partners) have private interests,” added Bowser.
The NS Conflict of Interest Act, for example, states: “Conflict of interest exists when the duties and responsibilities of an employee are/or potentially could be compromised by his or her personal and private interests. A conflict of interest may be real, apparent or perceived.”
Bowser says that Dr. Wheeler’s should have publicly declared and clarified his unpaid position as chair and director with LearnCorp International before the hydraulic fracking review process began.
COUNTERPOINT: No wonder fracking meetings were fractious by Max Haiven, August 1, 2014, The Chronicle Herald
Environment Minister Andrew Younger should not be concerned with the decorum of advocates at the public meetings on fracking. I attended a Halifax meeting last month and found a spirited and frustrated assembly, but one that was not hostile to a diversity of opinions.
The minister should, however, take heed of the intensity with which opponents to fracking express their opinions. It reveals three key dimensions of this problem.
First, like most Nova Scotians, opponents of fracking are highly skeptical that democracy will work in this case. They have seen, time and again, “consultation” used as a smokescreen or distraction, while decisions continue to be made behind closed doors. Most feel these meetings will be the only opportunity they will have to voice their serious concerns.
There is a democratic deficit here, and it is incumbent on our leaders to prove themselves.
Second, opponents of fracking know the debate is in no way an equal contest of opinions. On the one hand, we have voluntary community members and a few activists associated with non-governmental organizations.
On the other, we have one of the largest industries in the world. According to their 2013 annual report, one single mid-sized fracking company, SWN Resources (which is licensed to drill exploratory wells in New Brunswick), had a net income of $704 million US.
The entire combined 2013/14 forecast spending for the Nova Scotia Departments of Environment and Energy together is about $51 million US, a ratio of 14:1.
Compare that to the fact that, in its 2013 budget year, The Ecology Action Centre (one of the handful of formal groups taking an active stand on this issue) spent roughly $1.55 million US on all of its many important projects, of which energy-sector advocacy constituted only 8.1 per cent.
The passionate speeches of anti-fracking activists reflect their rightly held fear that, when money talks, their voices will not be heard. Given Nova Scotia’s long history of environmental disasters perpetrated by foreign corporations with government approval, who can blame them?
Finally, the spirited conduct at these meetings revealed the reality that there is a powerful and steadfast grassroots movement against fracking and other ecologically destructive practices in this province.
Having seen governments bend to foreign corporations time and again, having seen many areas of our beautiful province despoiled by industrial pollution, and having seen the recurring failure of consultation processes, ordained experts and politicians to safeguard the province’s future, many people are saying enough.
Should fracking ever be permitted in this province, we will likely all be nostalgic for the time when all we had to worry about were spirited public meetings. The protests that occurred in New Brunswick last year are a good indication of what can be expected, and that pales in comparison to the horrors fracking itself may unleash.
Max Haiven is an assistant professor at the Nova Scotia College of Art [Emphasis added]
UPDATED: Wheeler denies conflict of interest charges by Chris Shannon, August 01, 2014, Cape Breton Post
Cape Breton University president David Wheeler says he’s not in a conflict of interest as chair of the province’s hydraulic fracturing review panel, despite heading up the board overseeing a university-owned firm responsible for training oil and gas workers for Exxon Mobil. Wheeler was appointed to head the Nova Scotia Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel a year ago by the previous NDP government. He named experts to the panel [including frac patent holder Businessman Dr. Maurice Dusseault who stands to profit, if damning frac harm information is kept out of the panel’s reports and public consultations, and the government forces fracing on Nova Scotians, even in communities where most say no], which has been holding public meetings around the province.
“I would struggle to understand how someone could impute bias to me or the panel when we’ve ended up in a place that I would have thought most environmentalists would be reassured by (what was said about the report).”
Neal Livingston, co-chair of the Margaree Environmental Association, said the allegation of conflict of interest is just one more issue to add to the list of problems plaguing the panel. Livingston said Wheeler has “defined the approach” the panel is taking because he was responsible for handpicking those experts.
He also said the panel’s terms of reference lacks focus and people’s comments at the hearings haven’t been recorded for use in the panel’s report.
“The whole structural basis through which Wheeler operates, and I’ve seen him do it twice now, is that, ‘I pick the experts, and the experts are the experts. It doesn’t matter what anybody else says because they’re not the experts,’” Livingston said.
If this case doesn’t meet the definition of conflict of interest in Nova Scotia, Livingston said he’d like to know what situation would.
“The whole issue of conflict of interest is very important in society and this is just an example showing us how we’re not doing it well.” [Emphasis added]
Energy minister denies conflict of interest in fracking review panel by Chris Shannon, August 1, 2014, Cape Breton Post
Energy Minister Andrew Younger denies the head of the province’s hydraulic fracturing panel is in a conflict of interest due to his ties with the oil and gas industry. Cape Breton University president David Wheeler is chair of the Nova Scotia Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel, which has been holding public meetings on the highly controversial method of extracting natural gas. In his role as president, he also serves as the non-executive chair of LearnCorp International, a private firm owned by the Cape Breton University Foundation. LearnCorp trains oil and gas workers for Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest energy companies and a backer of hydraulic fracturing, or as it’s more commonly called, fracking.
Younger said he wasn’t personally aware of Wheeler’s connection to LearnCorp [couldn’t Younger have read a little bit, and found out?], as the panel was established by the previous NDP government, but that fact changes little for the minister who said it’ll have no impact on how the panel conducts its business. “By virtue of the foundation’s rules the president of Cape Breton University is automatically the non-executive chair so I don’t see where the conflict of interest should be in that case,” [Would it not make sense then, by those very rules, to have selected a University executive elsewhere, without frac ties to industry?] he said in an interview with the Post, Friday.
Younger said all academics in the province would have been overruled as candidates for the panel because each one of the province’s universities has connections with the oil and gas industry. [Does that sound like an embellishment?]
Wheeler wasn’t available for an interview Friday. The university issued a statement on his behalf. Last week, however, Wheeler said the province needs more time to get up to speed with the rapidly expanding unconventional oil and gas industry. “We need more research in a couple of particular areas before anyone could take a view on whether this is a good or a bad idea in any part of the province,” Wheeler said in an interview. “We are also saying that we need a period of learning and dialogue, hopefully informed by the report that we’re about to launch.”
In the CBU statement released Friday by university spokeswoman Lenore Parsley, it said Wheeler doesn’t consider this a conflict of interest “any more than the work he has conducted with UN agencies and environmental campaign organisations…” [Do those enabling industry bias and or conflict of interest usually admit to it?] “However, the LCI link will of course be declared in the final Report of the Panel, as it was to a leading Nova Scotia environmental organisation that inquired several months ago,” the release continued. [Is it transparent to disclose bias and conflict after the fact? Why did Dr. Wheeler or the university not disclose the LCI link when he was first appointed? Better yet, why not select someone without a bias? And when it was disclosed to a environmental group, why wasn’t it disclosed to the public?]
The panel is expected to release a final report with recommendations sometime this month. Nova Scotia imposed a two-year moratorium on fracking in 2012 as public concern grew over the potential for high-volume fracking to contaminate groundwater and foul the air – concerns the industry says are unfounded. [Emphasis added]
Most Nova Scotians don’t appear to want fracking here by Jim Guy, July 30, 2014, Cape Breton Post
A convincing consensus of opinion opposed to fracking has now been expressed to the expert panel reviewing the industry’s potential in Nova Scotia. The panel is led by Cape Breton University president David Wheeler.
As reported in the Cape Breton Post, approximately 92 per cent of the 238 people who made submissions acknowledged to have been received by Wheeler indicated their preference either for a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the province or a continuation of the present moratorium.
But there were actually 507 additional submissions sent as a form letter generated by the Council of Canadians. These were not raised by Wheeler in the various presentations until the audience brought them up. So, 745 submissions make for a much stronger reflection of public concern than the 238 referenced by the panel’s chair.
The “information sessions” on fracking held across the province drew a groundswell of negative views on the practice. Jennifer West, speaking for the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, noted how strong the opposition was: “(Wheeler) was not prepared for how vehemently opposed the communities would be to fracking.
After the panel’s session in Halifax last week, Wheeler said he had concluded “at this point it would not be sensible for this province to proceed” with fracking.
What is interesting about those remarks at this stage is that the panel’s final report has not yet been delivered to the provincial government. While Wheeler indicated he would not recommend continuing the two-year moratorium on fracking in Nova Scotia, he said we need to keep looking at the issue.
What Wheeler means concerning the moratorium is not clear. The final report may address these apparent contradictions more directly. There will continue to be pressure brought forward by concerned interests to extend the moratorium for at least a decade.
The most common theme expressed in the submissions was the need to protect water from fracking. That represents a much larger sample of Nova Scotia’s population with the same concern. The best measure of that opinion would be by way of a provincial plebiscite or referendum on fracking. But the panel is unlikely to recommend my idea to the government.
The review process has been criticized, and not only for how the panel members were recruited. The presentations themselves came to be viewed collectively as a “sham.” The panel’s final report is expected to be completed later this summer.
In order to prepare the province for anticipated private-sector access and usage of water, the government needs to enhance the current Water Resources Protection Act with new and forceful private-sector sanctions. This act and others have historically failed to prevent water scarcity and pollution, and to ensure that there is enough uncontaminated water to satisfy economic, environmental and health needs.
Furthermore, these acts do not provide for fair return for using this publicly owned resource. New legislation should give notice that water is vested in the Crown and that it should be managed solely in the public interest. The provincial government should proclaim what is called “the public trust doctrine,” which explicitly declares that water is owned by the public and must be managed on behalf of the public as a human right. Private and corporate rights should be subordinate to the public interest at all times.
In other constituencies, regulations and oversight alone have not been able to prevent water and air contamination which threatens communities and other industries. Referring to Lethbridge, Alta., for example, this year’s March-April edition of the Watershed Sentinel magazine reported that water toxins used in the extraction of fracked gas from upstream wells were found in the tap water of local communities, including the Blood Tribe reserve.
Beyond Nova Scotia, fracking is widely recognized as especially dangerous to water resources. It has been banned or has been subject to a moratorium in so many other countries, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Luxembourg and South Africa, not to mention resource-rich Newfoundland, and urban municipalities such as Hamilton, Ont., Lethbridge, Pittsburgh and Denver.
With his recent remarks, Wheeler jumped ahead of himself, his panel and his report’s due date. But he rightfully concluded that many questions remain unanswered. So the government should not be advised in this report to permit fracking anywhere in Nova Scotia.
Jim Guy, PhD, is professor emeritus of political science and international law at Cape Breton University. [Emphasis added]
No Fracking meeting held in Noel by Anita Benedict, July 30, 2014, Enfield Weekly Press
Noel-Red “No Fracking” banners streamed along the roadside leading to the Hants North Legion in Noel where more than 60 individuals filled the hall on July 23 for a discussion on the Nova Scotia hydraulic fracturing review. The review was complied by a panel of experts under the direction of Dr. David Wheeler who spoke to the assembled crowd. The meeting was not on the initial list until Janelle Frail with East Hants Fracking Opposition Group EHFOG made a phone call to MLA Margaret Miller’s office requesting one.Frail questioned Wheeler on why this area, which has been the centre of controversy, wasn’t first on the list. Wheeler apologized for the oversight.
Wheeler says the panel went into this process with no pre-conceptions of what hydraulic fracturing might or might not mean in the province. “We approached this simply from a perspective of what might be best for Nova Scotians economically, socially and environmentally.” [Did the patent holder on the panel visualize some future profits for himself if Nova Scotia gets frac’d like Alberta?]
Wheeler says he believes all risks can be managed but not all risks can be eliminated so it’s important to understand the difference. “What we know is that we can reduce risks in many places,” says Wheeler.
“This is an independent [patent?] report that says what we know and what we don’t know but we do hope it creates a basis for a proper discussion at a committee level and a provincial level,” says Wheeler. “As a panel we are not saying, based on our deliberations so far that this activity should happen now or that it should occur in the future. We are not saying that we are eliminating the possibility but there will have to be some significant tests. We are saying that before anything happens there should be a significant period of learning and dialogue around this topic.”
“We are also saying that before anything happens, there should be some research. We have time to allow more research to be done of the wide scale implication of hydraulic fracturing,” -says Wheeler who suggested keeping an eye on what is happening in NB.
Wheeler talked a lot about engaging the community in discussions. [Did he ask any communities in NS if they expect a share in the profits from Dr. Dusseault’s frac patent?]
“I believe passionately that the best way to form energy and environmental policy, particularly in combat situations like this is through as much involvement as possible with the public,” says Wheeler.
“Those are just recommendations from 11 academics[, a frac patent holder and chair of a private firm that makes money promoting fracing and teaching oil and gas workers] and consultants, who worked quite hard at it and come to a conclusion about what might be best for this province,” says Wheeler
Caroline Greenland asked the first question, wondering how they proposed to determine the community is in agreement or not in agreement. Wheeler answered that Constance Macintosh their legal advisor was working on that.
“The overall view of the panel is that it would be pointless for any government in NS to try and crash this through against the will of the communities,” says Wheeler. He also added that industry is not going to go somewhere there is deep and clear opposition to this activity. [Has Dr. Wheeler not been paying attention? A few examples: Balcombe, UK; Belcoo, Northern Ireland; Elsipogtog, NB; Communities across Australia, Poland, Argentina, France (clearly said no, companies trying to sneak fracing in), Germany and more; Quebec municipalities protesting and already facing leaking shale gas wells and methane contaminated drinking water; etc.]
One man spoke up and said that was not true for New Brunswick that they had gone in without community approval and that it could happen here.
Wheeler agreed it was possible a government could be elected that would want to develop the natural gas immediately….
Frail, speaking for EFHOG says the next steps for the group will be to keep lobbying the government to either keep the moratorium in place or to outright ban fracking in Nova Scotia. “I think that is loud and clear from Wheeler’s report that the next step is to really put pressure on our local MLA Margaret Miller and the Dept of Energy Minister Andrew Younger,” says Frail. “Our next step will be to encourage the government to listen to the recommendation of the Wheeler report in so far as more consultation needs to happen and more research.”
Responding to recommendations Frails says, “I think more people were hoping the Wheeler report would be a little stronger in their recommendations [What if Wheeler recommends fracing and does not do as he’s been telling communities? There’s a frac patent waiting, after all.] but maybe their scope wasn’t allowing them to do that. A recommendation from the Wheeler report saying the moratorium should continue would have been great or that a ban should be put in place.” [Would Dr. Dusseault allow that?]
As for the number of unknowns around the fracking process, Frail says two group members made it loud and clear at the meeting that the lack of research done in Kennetcook and action taken around the waste water was very disturbing as well as the lack of concern around what has already happened.
MLA Miller was unable to attend the Noel meeting but had attended the Truro meeting on July 22. “From my understanding and from listening to the report and reading the power point was that there are a lot of choices and a lot of these choices can be made by the citizens of the area it may affect,” said Miller in a phone interview. “Everywhere in that report, time after time, it would say this will only happen with the consent of the community. That is a buy in for every community to say, yea or nay we don’t want it we are uncomfortable or yes we need a development and we are willing to take the risk.”
Miller says that she will listen to her constituent’s wishes. [Emphasis added]
Fracking public meetings wrap in Nova Scotia, Head of review panel says more study required by CBC News, July 30, 2014
Public hearings discussing hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia have come to an end after making stops in 10 communities across the province. The final meeting took place in Whycocomagh on Tuesday night. … Wheeler says the provincial government should conduct more studies and do more research. “Step No. 1 is a debate and a dialogue in our province about what the report says, what it means — what it means at a community level, what it means at a provincial level,” he said. “If the province wishes to proceed with exploring the potential for this particular technology, then we think there’s research to be done again at the community level looking at environmental impacts and community attitudes.”
[Refer also to:
…Leonard removed himself from any discussions around the shale gas industry after his sister took a job with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.