Couillard rules out fracking by Geoffrey Vendeville, December 16, 2014, Montreal Gazette
Premier Philippe Couillard closed the door on shale gas development in Quebec after an environmental review said its risks outweighed the economic benefits. “I don’t think there is a big interest in developing this resource on the economic or financial levels. Anyway, the social acceptability isn’t there,” he said in an exclusive interview with Radio-Canada on Tuesday.
“If there’s no segment of the population that approves of the practice then I don’t see the interest in developing it.”
Last year, the Parti Québécois government imposed a five-year ban on fracking in the St. Lawrence Lowlands, the region between Montreal and Quebec City, home to about 2 million people. But the PQ government was later criticized for offering two energy companies $115 million to carry out exploratory studies on Anticosti Island as a prelude to hydraulic fracturing for oil.
The Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique said the BAPE poked holes in fracking proponents’ claim that shale gas extraction is safe. The government now has all the information it needs to ban fracking on its territory, the environmentalist association said.
The Quebec Oil and Gas Association refused to comment before watching the interview, which aired at 6 p.m. on Radio-Canada. The association of oil producers called into question the BAPE’s negative economic predictions about fracking in Quebec. [The truth hurts, doesn’t it?]
Collective victory against shale gas Dominic Champagne’s reaction to the latest BAPE Report Translation by Amis du Richelieu, December 16, 2014
It is not every day that we have reasons to rejoice so much!
I’m on fire! I’m jubilant! After four years, four years of hard work! I want to kiss you all right now! This is a great collective victory! For thousands of men and women that have found themselves, recognized themselves, that have fought, that have put their shoulder to the grind, in anguish and with determination!
A victory for the collective conscience, for civil society, for a democratic awakening, for an ecological requirement and this extraordinary institution called a BAPE, of which we were hoping so much that it would not be perverted by power games.
We have to believe in ourselves! Believe in our requirements and our potential. Believe in our right to refuse that which goes against public interest. And now, all together, marching forward, towards the necessary transition we have all invited ourselves to! Demand that Quebec gives itself a credible transition plan. One that could enrich the collectivity and the quality of life!
Yes we can! Thank you and bravo to all of you that were there, that are there, that will be there. Because, as we all know, the industry has not had it’s last word. But we shall not deny ourselves the pleasure of victory. Here are the last lines of the report that are very clear:
“In conclusion, because of the magnitude of the potential impacts associated with the activities of the shale gas industry in such a populated area and so sensitive like the St. Lawrence Lowlands, also because of the uncertainties that remain regarding the potential impacts on groundwater quality and the capacity of the industry to preserve the integrity of the wells on the very long term, the inquiry commission is of the opinion that it has not been shown that the exploration and the exploitation of shale gas in the St. Lawrence Lowlands using the hydraulic fracturing technique, would be advantageous for Quebec.”
After a first review panel in 2011, and after a lengthy Strategic Environmental Assessment commissioning dozens of research studies, a final overall review panel has concluded today that hydraulic fracturing would not be appropriate for Quebec.
“In conclusion, because of the magnitude of potential impacts associated with shale gas industry activities in an area as populated and as sensitive as the St. Lawrence Lowlands, because also of uncertainties that subsist regarding potential impacts on water quality of aquifers and the incapacity of the industry to garantee long-term integrity of gas wells, the review panel is of the opinion that it has not been shown that the exploration and development of shale gas in the St. Lawrence Lowlands, using the technique of hydraulic fracturing would be for the benefit of Quebec.”
Gaz de schiste: pas d’avantages pour le Québec, juge le BAPE by Alexandre Shields, December 15, 2014, Le Devoir Shale gas has no benefits for Quebec says the BAPE Translation by Amie du Richelieu, December 15, 2014
No matter what the shale gas lobbyists say, nothing proves that the development of this industry would be to the advantage of Quebec. There is no social acceptability either, arrives at the conclusion the report of the provincial environmental public hearings body (BAPE) made public Monday morning.
“The commission observed that it was not sufficiently demonstrated that the exploration and the exploitation of shale gas in the St. Lawrence Lowlands with the hydraulic fracturing technique would be advantageous for Quebec because of the great costs and potential externalities compared to the royalties that would be collected by Quebec”, mentions the BAPE.
The group also observed that the actual legislative oversight is absolutely not adapted to the exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels. “If the industry would come to flourish in Quebec, it would not be before an adapted legislative and regulatory framework, linking local and regional authorities, be adopted. Its rigorous and transparent application should then answer to the many requirements made necessary by the exploration and exploitation of shale gas in the territory.”
The BAPE maintains that there are “shortcomings” in our knowledge of underground natural fractures which would prevent us from determining if it would be possible that groundwater be contaminated by the shale gas industry.
The government should also get more information on the watercourses in the St. Lawrence Lowlands that risk being under heavy pressure in case of water withdrawal by the gas industry to get the water they need.
Social acceptability: a prerequisite
A major point, the BAPE stresses that there is simply no social acceptability. “Restoring confidence between citizens, the industry and government authorities is an indispensable prerequisite to social acceptability of these activities in the territory”, explains the group.
The Natural Resources and Energy Minister Pierre Arcand, had himself admitted last week that social acceptability is not acquired in Quebec for the return of gas drilling. In the name of the group Vigilance hydrocarbures, Québec solidaire had presented to the National Assembly in November, 34,000 signed letters by citizens of the St. Lawrence Valley opposed to the presence of the shale gas industry. That would bring the number of formal refusals to 66,000 in the southern part of the province.
Last month, Michael Binnion, the president of the Quebec Oil and Gas Association, had said that the people of Quebec could prove to be more open to the development of drilling derricks between Quebec City and Montreal. “In 2010, the people did not understand the energy problems of Quebec. But now, they understand that there is a problem in the supply of oil and the secure supply of gas” he said at the annual meeting of the Association. Maybe that the people of Quebec are not ready to accept shale gas exploitation, he added, but “it is better than in 2010”.
The most recent version of the map showing the exploration permits in the southern part of Quebec shows that most of the exploration permits that were there in 2010 are still active.
A total of 12 companies control the permits covering large sections of this vast region. The principal holders are the Quebec company Junex, but also from Alberta, there are Talisman Energy and Molopo Canada. The southshore of the St. Lawrence is mostly covered by permits, mostly in the Montérégie region, in the Centre-du-Quebec and in the Eastern Townships. The same for the northshore between Montreal and the Island of Orleans. The total surface covered in the Lowlands is near 25,000 square km.
But all development of this industry is stopped since 2010, when the Liberal government had given the BAPE a mandate to study this controversial industry. A Strategic Environmental Assessment (EES) done after this first BAPE mentioned in a report made public in February, the many environmental risks that come with shale gas.
The EES report read “All exploration and exploitation of shale gas in Quebec will raise the greenhouse gases numbers”. This industry “could have an important impact on the air quality on a local scale and on a regional scale in the sub-regions where there would be heavy development”.
The EES also concluded that the great volumes of wastewater to be treated could become too much for the present treatment capacity. Plus, municipal installations to treat wastewater “have not been made to treat flowback waters”. As per the scenarios brought up by the EES, between 1,000 and 9,000 shale gas wells could be drilled over a period of 10 to 20 years. That would mean a range of between 349 to 2101 wells per year. [Emphasis added]
Fracking provides few benefits to Quebec, environmental review says by Geoffrey Vendeville, December 15, 2014, Montreal Gazette
The Bureau des audiences publique sur l’environnement, BAPE, determined there is scant evidence to support the oil and gas lobby’s claim that hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” would be advantageous for Quebec.
The fracking projects in Quebec are concentrated in the St. Lawrence Lowlands between Montreal and Quebec City, home to 2.1 million people and the province’s best arable land.
The report found that fracking could have “major impacts” on nearby communities, from polluting the air to increasing traffic and noise. Even with “rigorous attenuation measures,” fracking would still cause a “range of annoyances” for residents hundreds of metres from a work site, the BAPE said.
For example, the process can release acrid odours that are strong enough to cause complaints 600 metres from the fracking platform, the environmental review said. It said the work could also generate enough noise to disturb people living up to four kilometres away.
“The activities of the industry could engender consequences for the quality of the environment, particularly on the quality of surface and underground water,” the document said.
Based on a cost-benefit analysis, using projections for the price of natural gas for the next 25 years, the BAPE observed, “the exploitation of shale gas in the St. Lawrence Lowlands would not be profitable for the industry.” [Is that why Alberta subsidizes fracking with taxpayer funds of $200.00 per drilled linear metre? How much would the companies demand to frac in Quebec?]
The report found that fracking could have “major impacts” on nearby communities, from polluting the air to increasing traffic and noise. [As is happening everywhere that fracking is taking place across North America?]
Even if gas prices bounced back, “it hasn’t been shown that the financial advantages for Quebec would be sufficiently important to compensate for the costs and externalities for society and the environment,” the report said.
The BAPE found that shale gas development could increase Quebec’s greenhouse gas emissions by three to 23.2 per cent.
Each horizontal well could require up to 4,000 round trips by truck, increasing the risks of accidents and speeding up the deterioration of roads, the report added.
After participating in the BAPE’s public hearings on shale gas development, Jacques Tétrault of the anti-fracking coalition of citizens’ groups called the Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures du Québec welcomed the agency’s final report. “It shows the voice of citizens have been heard,” he said. “I think the quantity and quality of briefs presented to the commission showed that our worries were more than just perception. They were well founded.
“I hope it will change the government’s policy,” he noted, “but it wouldn’t be the first time that a government has taken a report and swept it under the rug.”
The Quebec Oil and Gas Association said Monday afternoon that they needed more time to review the 540-page report before issuing a statement.
In light of the environmental assessment agency’s findings, the opposition Parti Québécois said the government has no choice but to abandon shale gas exploration. “For us the answer is clear: shale gas would distance us from our goal of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. The Liberals must finally listen to the population and say no to shale gas,” said the party’s point person on natural resources, Marie-Victorin MNA Bernard Drainville.
Quebec imposed a ban on fracking in 2011 pending the results of environmental studies, including the BAPE assessment. [Emphasis added]
Fracking dealt another setback by Quebec report by Shawn McCarthy, December 15, 2014, The Globe and Mail
Quebec’s environmental bureau has dealt a setback to companies that want to use hydraulic fracturing techniques to develop the province’s promising shale gas deposits, saying it appears the economic benefits would not outweigh the environmental costs.
The advisory office of environmental hearings (or BAPE, as it is known in French) reviewed plans to develop the Utica shale formation, which proponents say could yield an important source of fuel for the Quebec economy and export markets. Its conclusions, delivered Monday, amount to a flashing yellow light for industry and the government of Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard.
The commission found that exploration and production of shale gas in the St. Lawrence Lowlands “would not be advantageous for Quebec because of the magnitude of the potential costs and externalities, compared to royalties that would be collected by Quebec,” BAPE said in a release. “Other concerns also remain, including plans of social acceptability, legislation and a lack of of knowledge, particularly with respect to water resources.”
It added that industry and government must work to restore public trust in order to gain widespread acceptance of the controversial practice known as fracking, which blasts chemically laced water under high pressure to split the hydrocarbon-bearing rock in order to extract natural gas or oil. … An aide to Quebec environment minister David Hurtle said the conclusions of the report raise many serious questions, adding the document will help inform the strategic environmental assessment on hydrocarbons currently being undertaken by the government.
Several exploration companies have acreage in Quebec but have been unable to drill in order to determine whether gas from the Utica field can be profitably extracted. With today’s low North American prices, the firms face a high commercial hurdle, given there is no drilling infrastructure in the province. [Will the companies demand and get more than the $200.00 per linear metre they get in Alberta to drill unconventionals?]
“We agree with [BAPE’s] point that social acceptance [for fracking] is not there and that public confidence must be built,” said Michael Binnion, chief executive at Calgary-based Questerre Energy Corp. “And we agree that we need a new hydrocarbon law.”
He said industry has to work with government to reassure the public that the industry will be properly regulated. However, he said the environmental bureau is not the best judge of economic benefits that would accrue to the province. “Quebec is sitting on one of the biggest gas discoveries in North America [Isn’t this what they all say?], and it is close to the biggest markets,” he said. “This could be [Note that Mr. Binnion did not say “would be”] a significant benefit for the province.”
However, one expert said the industry faces an uphill battle. “It’s a question of social acceptance. That’s the only problem in fact,” said Germain Belzile, a full-time lecturer at Montreal’s HEC business school. “And I don’t think it’s achievable in the foreseeable future.”
Shale gas not worth the risk, Quebec environmental agency says
by Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press, December 15, 2014, CTV News Montreal
Quebec’s environmental review board has concluded that exploiting the province’s shale gas deposits is not worth the risk.
The agency’s highly anticipated report — released Monday — stated there are too many potential negative consequences to the environment and to society from extracting natural gas from shale rock along the St. Lawrence River.
The report estimated that Quebec could receive between $71 million and $475 million a year, over 25 years, in royalties from shale gas extraction. However, the risks to air and water quality and potential increases in noise and light pollution are not worth the money, it said.
Moreover, the report noted that the risks associated with shale gas drilling are exacerbated due to the gas deposits being located in the densely populated area between Montreal and Quebec City.
It is unclear how the government will respond to the report or if it will extend a moratorium on shale gas exploration that has been in place since 2011.
Marie-Catherine Leduc, a spokeswoman for Quebec’s environment minister, said the report “reveals many serious questions.” … “The department will take the time to analyze the report’s conclusions with rigour,” she said.
While the government’s reaction to the report is still unclear, Greenpeace Canada said it knows exactly how environmental activists will react to the review board’s findings.
“Every environmental group across the country will be waving this report in front of their provincial governments,” said Keith Stewart, head of the organization’s energy campaign. He called the report “a clear indication” that provincial governments should reconsider exploiting unconventional fossil fuels.
Several provinces currently exploit shale gas deposits including British Columbia and Alberta.
Stephane Forget, vice-president of Quebec’s federation of chambers of commerce, said the report’s conclusions are “not very positive for the development of (shale gas) in Quebec.”
However, he said the government should allow several wells to be drilled in order to show how the report’s concerns can be addressed. He added that the environmental review board didn’t have enough expertise to properly evaluate the financial benefits of shale gas drilling in Quebec.
The federal government says Quebec has up to 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas trapped in shale gas, but noted that only about 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the trapped gas is typically recoverable. [The NEB reported only about 20% is recoverable, much of it biogenic. What happens to the 80% that is frac’d and not recovered? Water wells have already gone bad in Quebec, near new shale wells that are leaking – industry already blamed water well owners and bacteria, even though companies are unable to repair their methane leaks after being ordered to by the regulator]
Several companies with shale gas drilling rights in Quebec did not return interview requests on Monday. [Emphasis added]
Shale Gas: Quebec’s Environmental Review Board Says It’s Not Worth The Risk by Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press, December 15, 2014, Huffingtonpost.ca
MONTREAL – Quebec’s environmental review board says shale gas exploration in the province is not worth the risk.
The agency report concludes there are too many potential negative consequences to the environment and to society from extracting natural gas from shale rock deposits along the St. Lawrence River.
The report cites risks to air and water quality, potential increases in noise and light pollution and says the deposits in the province are located in densely populated areas along the river.
In 2011, the Quebec government issued a moratorium on exploring for natural gas in the province until it finished an environmental assessment, which included the report published today.
The federal government says there are up to 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in shale deposits in Quebec and that before the moratorium, 31 exploration wells had been drilled between Montreal and Quebec City. [More than half are leaking with companies unable to repair the leaks after being ordered to]
Quebec environmental agency says shale gas exploration not worth the risk, Agency concludes there are too many potential negative consequences to go forward with exploration by The Canadian Press, December 15, 2014, CBC News
[Refer also to:
Even though she is ordering a new independent inquiry into shale gas exploration and exploitation, she would ban the industry and its controversial hydraulic fracturing outright.
“I don’t see the day when these technologies can be used in a safe way,” said Ms. Ouellet, as she walked to her first cabinet meeting Thursday in Quebec City.
“By any responsible account,” [Pennsylvanian Supreme Court] Chief Justice Castille wrote, “the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and the future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.”
Slide from Ernst Presentations
Slides above: November 18, 2011, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, Dr. Simona Perry Presentation (33 Min) “It’s Like We’re Losing Our Love“