2011 09 11 Report on the POWERS Frack Alberta Workshop by Doug Malsbury, September 11, 2011. Alberta Surface Rights Group
On September 10/11 several members of Alberta Surface Rights Group attended the “POWERS” (Protecting Our Water & Ecological Resources Society) information meeting at Cochrane, Alberta. The”POWERS”group was formed by concerned urban and rural residents of Rocky View County after the oil and gas industry started hydro fracking the Cardium play within the area. As they looked into the process and educated themselves, they soon realized that the regulator (ERCB) were not on top of this and industry and government were not telling them the whole story! The “POWERS” group is demanding a moratorium on hydro-fracking until an independent scientific study can assure the safety of the process. This was a well organized meeting and they brought in two excellent speakers to address the crowd.
Andrew Nikiforuk is a well known author and a landowner member of the Livingston Group. His presentation was factual and passionate at the same time! He explained the characteristics of a “petro state”:
-low taxes and a strong reliance to make up for it by spending energy dollars.
-concentrating power within a beuracracy and cabinet
-incompetence (lack of planning, inability to make good decisions, lack of statescraft)
Mr. Nikiforuk also informed us the ERCB is 63% funded by the very industry it is supposed to regulate with 90% of that funding coming from100 companies! He also gave us some insights into the huge amounts of water needed as well as the power required to fracture the shale. One figure that really struck me was it requires 11,000,000 hp to do one frac……..equivalent to the power produced by 11 NUCLEAR REACTORS!
High Pressure Fracs can also create earthquakes. Rocky Mountain House experienced an earthquake after extensive hydro-fracking and Ft. St. John has experienced several……one recored at 4.2 on the Richter scale! The US Geological society has described hydro-fracking as NON LINEAR CHAOS! In other words the frac might go just about anywhere! Finally Andrew talked about a very real government disconnect…….Carbon capture and storage in the same areas to be hydro-fracked! If the caprock is compromised through hydro fracking the possibilities of a C02 release become a scary and dangerous proposition! This disconnect clearly shows how incompetent the government has become.
I think the most profound statement Mr. Nikiforuk made was this “water contamination is not a possibility….it is inevitable”!
A very good presentation that I wish every Albertan could hear!
The next speaker was Jessica Ernst from Rosebud, Alberta describing her experience with hydro-fracking, the ERCB, Alberta Environment, the Alberta Research Council, Encana, and both the province and the federal government. It was a different kind of presentation to be sure! As well as the facts of her situation, Jessica bared her soul for those assembled, talking about how it had changed her view of the world and altered her very personality. It was a potent message that touched everyone in the crowd!
The basic story was one of betrayal, of deception by the very people whose job it was to protect her, of lying, intimidation, smearing her reputation……after she objected to Encana destroying her water well through hydro fracking! She talked of her fear and terror. She talked about her disappointment with the industry, the government, and some of her neighbors. She talked about her determination to see this through to the end…..no matter what they throw at her!
An extremely powerful presentation! A person who deserves all of our support! Ms. Ernst got a standing ovation for several minutes when she was finished! Jessica is a prime example of how one principled individual can make a difference and despite her fear can rise up and fight the good fight! (For myself personally, meeting Jessica face to face for the first time was the high light of this day. From reading her story and corresponding with her at various times I knew she was something special…….a real life hero!) [Emphasis added]