Our governments addicted to ‘frack’ by Brenda Schimke, February 12, 2015, ECA Review
So Jason Kenney is down in New Brunswick telling them that they can be rich like Alberta if they allow hydro-fracking.
Hydro-fracking is a huge revenue source for private-sector gas companies and the Alberta Treasury but the technology is new in terms of understanding its long-term consequences. Many landowners are concerned for their water wells. They don’t have the option of heading back into the big city to turn on the tap to provide drinking water for their family and herd of livelihood.
There’s Jessica Ernst of Rosebud who is in her seventh year of a law suit against the Alberta government and Encana. She claims Encana drilled and fractured shallow coal bed methane wells polluting Ernst’s water well with enough toxic chemicals and methane to make it flammable and that the Alberta Government had no proper oversight.
Then there’s the whole dicey practice of the Alberta government allowing the oil and gas industry to pump contaminated waste water back into empty cavities for long-term underground storage. There is no guarantee that this waste water won’t re-surface. In fact a recent report published in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin by Dr. Ben Cowle (University of Calgary graduate now working at Harvard) confirmed contaminated water has re-surfaced in some areas where extensive steam-induced oil sands operations have taken place in Northern Alberta.
Just last month there were two seismic events in the Fox Creek area one reported at 4.4 on the Richter scale and another a 3.8 magnitude earthquake. The Alberta Energy Regulator’s spokesman, Peter Murchland, confirmed it may be related to hydraulic fracturing.
It certainly paints an interesting picture. Over the years we’ve taken out gads of oil and gas from underground seams by traditional drilling. Now we’re storing toxic waste in those empty cavities on one hand and on the other we’re pushing at great force chemicals, water and sand down other wells to crack the bedrock and free trapped oil and gas. Then throw in some earthquakes.
Surely it doesn’t take a scientist to believe this kind of action underground could erode, destabilize or fracture rock layers. Surely it makes sense that all this underground action could allow contaminated waters to merge into fresh water streams migrating upwards.
We have renowned scientists such as Rick Chalaturnyk [largely funded by Shell], engineering professor at the University of Alberta who along with a panel of top Canadian scientists [one third were American, refer below] has extensively studied fracking.
[Has any panel “studied” fracing in Canada? There have only been extraordinarily lacking and dishonest “reviews” complete with frac patent conflict of interest, lies about degrees leading to Order of Canada stripping and Health Canada not releasing their report to the public]
They acknowledged that the economic impact of fracking could be substantial across Canada so they don’t recommend shelving the whole idea. All they want to see is a proper regulatory framework and enforcement before we go frack-wild.
[The “experts” know regulators are deregulating and law makers decimating citizen and landowner rights everywhere fracing is going wild. The “experts” surely know what they claim they want won’t happen, so why bother? To fool Canadians into thinking energy regulators regulate or that the “experts” are unbiased?]
They want the health dangers identified before humans are exposed to the poorly understood mixtures of chemicals currently used in fracking.
[Health Canada’s 2012 frac review admitting serious risks to health and water from fracing was completed 2 years before the Council of Canadian Academies frac panel review came out, but the American and Canadian “experts” chose not to mention the health risks pointed out by Health Canada or reference them in their report.]
What government should have a problem with that approach? Wouldn’t that be called due diligence, good governance?
In 2011, Alberta’s energy regulator, the ERCB, now the Alberta Energy Regulator, disclosed in Report 2011-A that the potential for hydraulic fracturing to contaminate useable water aquifers with fracturing chemicals and natural gas is a real public issue, especially in shallow zones. Yet seven years later the government continues to use our tax dollars to fight Jessica Ernst whose property was in the heart of the shallow zones.
So why are governments and the industry getting away with it? Two words—money and power. Andrew Nikiforuk, a Canadian journalist and author, recently made public a [September 23, 2013] taped iPhone conversation where Glenn Solomon, one of Alberta’s top energy litigators, explained how the multi-billion-dollar fracking industry actively bought the silence of landowners with buy-outs and confidentiality agreements.
A crack addict would rather have a hit than food.
A frack addict would rather have gas than fresh water.
The Jessica Ernst’s of the world can’t hold industry and governments accountable alone.
The buck stops with the rest of us. We decide in this upcoming election season whether to hold governments to account for their actions or in this case their inactions–or not! [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Expert Panel to Understand the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction by Council of Canadian Academies. The link has been disabled by the CCA. It was http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/in-progress/shale-gas/expert-panel.aspx
John Cherry Chair, Associate Director G360 Centre Applied GW Research, Adjunct Prof School of Eng, U of Guelph
Michael Ben-Eli, Founder & Director of the Sustainability Laboratory, New York
Lalita Bharadwaj, Associate Prof, Toxicologist, School of Public Health, U of Saskatchewan
Rick Chalaturnyk, Prof of Geotechnical Engineering, Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering, U of Alberta
Maurice B. Dusseault, PT Prof of Engineering Geology, Dept of Earth and Environmental Sciences, U of Waterloo
Bernard Goldstein, Prof Environmental and Public Health, Graduate School of Public Health, U of Pittsburgh
Jean-Paul Lacoursière, Associate Prof, Chemical Engineering Dept, U of Sherbrooke
Ralph Matthews, Prof Dept Sociology U BC; Prof Emeritus of Sociology, McMaster U
Bernhard Mayer, Prof of Isotope Geochemistry, Dept of Geoscience, U of Calgary
Jennifer Miskimins, Associate Prof, Petroleum Eng Dept, Colorado School of Mines
John Molson, Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Hydrogeology of Fractured Porous Media, Dept of Geology and Geological Engineering, Laval U
Kelly Munkittrick, Sc Director, Canadian Water Network, Prof, Dept of Bio, U of NB
Naomi Oreskes, Prof History and Science Studies, Dept of History, U of California
Beth Parker, Director, G360 Centre Applied Groundwater Research, U of Guelph
Paul Young, FRSC, VP (Research) & Prof Geophysics, U of Toronto
Mark D. Zoback, Prof Geophysics, Stanford U
[The “past operations” continue today. Encana is still getting approvals from the Alberta Energy Regulator to hydraulically fracture energy wells where the fresh drinking water is]