Fracking committee has more work ahead of it

Fracking committee has more work ahead of it The Select Committee on the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing has heard from experts and stakeholders in camera at the legislature and during the public proceedings and has posted most of the material

The Select Committee on the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing has heard from experts and stakeholders in camera at the legislature and during the public proceedings and has posted most of the material it has received on its website. These are important steps and the Yukon Conservation Society congratulates the committee upon its progress so far.

YCS does, however, urge the select committee to continue working to inform its members and the Yukon public about the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing.

The presentation shared by representatives of the Fort Nelson First Nation in the recent public proceedings alerted the committee and the Yukon public to serious inadequacies in British Columbia’s ability to safely regulate fracking. Their presentation described an environmental and socio-economic nightmare of irresponsible development with little monitoring or enforcement, and no consideration of how cumulative effects of extensive industrial development are impacting watersheds, ecosystems, wildlife populations and First Nations aboriginal rights and title.

YCS urges the select committee to accept the chief’s invitation and travel to the Fort Nelson area, to see how the fracking industry operates there.

Furthermore, the fact that Yukon government and the BC Oil and Gas Commission have recently decided to cooperate reinforces the need for more information about who is responsible for health and other impacts from fracking.

During the public proceedings, a representative from the BC Oil and Gas Commission declined questions about public health impacts and climate change because he stated that other departments within the BC government are responsible for those areas. We need to hear from the BC government departments that are monitoring and managing human health impacts and greenhouse gas emissions related to fracking.

YCS notes that “the select committee’s mandate will enable it to undertake activities with the goal of gaining a science-based understanding of the technical, environmental, societal, and regulatory aspects of hydraulic fracturing. Committee activities will include facilitating education, information sharing, and conducting stakeholder and public consultations.”

Currently, the committee is planning to hold public meetings in only two communities outside of Whitehorse: Watson Lake and Old Crow. Hydraulic fracturing in the exploration for, and development of, oil and gas would have profound effects on the entire territory and on all Yukoners. For this reason, YCS urges the select committee to hold public meetings in all Yukon communities.

Many Yukon communities are either within or close to sedimentary basins identified as having proven or probable reserves of oil or gas. At a minimum, the select committee must travel to these communities. All Yukon people would be affected by hydraulic fracturing through increased truck traffic, impacts to air, water, and wildlife, and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore all Yukon communities should have the opportunity to have public meetings attended by the select committee.

Public meetings should be held in the town hall style, where presentations by the committee can serve as starting points for public discourse.

We look forward to your response on this vital issue: will you ensure that all Yukoners are fully consulted about the possibility of hydraulic fracturing in the Yukon by holding public meetings in all Yukon communities?

Sebastian Jones

Yukon Conservation Society

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