Fracking committee should visit all communities

Fracking committee should visit all communities The decision by the legislative committee studying hydraulic fracturing to visit Yukon communities - other than Whitehorse, Old Crow and Watson Lake - only if requested is to thrust the committee's responsi

The decision by the legislative committee studying hydraulic fracturing to visit Yukon communities – other than Whitehorse, Old Crow and Watson Lake – only if requested is to thrust the committee’s responsibility onto citizens. The purpose of the committee, according to its mandate, is: “to facilitate an informed public dialogue for the purpose of sharing information” and “to gather input from the Yukon public, First Nations, stakeholders and stakeholder groups.” How does a committee conduct a dialogue or gather input other than by consulting the people? Surely, the best way to share and gather is through public meetings held in all communities. To pretend that only Whitehorse, Old Crow and Watson Lake would be affected by hydraulic fracturing is disingenuous; in fact, it is completely inaccurate.

Fracking would impact substantial parts of Yukon as we would be compelled to share the bridges and highways with hundreds of trucks transporting the chemicals, water, sand, piping, concrete, hydrocarbons etc. that are required to frack. There would be a severe strain on our infrastructure. Who would bear the costs? Taxpayers, as always! Moreover, the water, air, and wildlife that would be impacted by hydraulic fracturing are not confined to the tidy boundaries of the aforementioned three communities. They all migrate. Then there are the costs to monitoring operations, health care, policing etc. The point quite simply is this: much of the Yukon (wherever there is shale geology that might be exploited by fracking) and all Yukoners (regardless of where they live) will bear the brunt of this destructive technology. Therefore, the committee should be prepared to travel to all Yukon communities to conduct that “public dialogue for sharing information.” Without that dialogue there can be no social licence to proceed with fracking, no matter how well regulated. (As an aside: Anyone who has done any research into fracking will quickly discover that: the regulators can monitor only a fraction of the projects; the oil and gas industry is often left to regulate itself; 15-20 per cent of the wells in Alberta, for example, fail every year; and regulation cannot prevent environmental degradation). Social licence (approval by Yukoners) was described by several presenters during the select committee hearings on hydraulic fracturing as being essential before government approval. The committee will only visit a community if requested to do so. Since the February 28 news release there has been no media promotion by the committee about this process. Why not? Secondly, not everyone in Yukon has a computer or computer access to complete the request online. Have allowances been made for other methods of requesting the committee visit? How many community requests does it take to trigger a visit? And from whom? Decisions about hydraulic fracturing and its implications are far too serious to be left to arbitrary methods of sharing information and obtaining public input. The select committee should agree to provide the public dialogue promised in its mandate and visit all Yukon communities.

Fracking would impact substantial parts of Yukon as we would be compelled to share the bridges and highways with hundreds of trucks transporting the chemicals, water, sand, piping, concrete, hydrocarbons etc. that are required to frack. There would be a severe strain on our infrastructure. Who would bear the costs? Taxpayers, as always! Moreover, the water, air, and wildlife that would be impacted by hydraulic fracturing are not confined to the tidy boundaries of the aforementioned three communities. They all migrate. Then there are the costs to monitoring operations, health care, policing etc. The point quite simply is this: much of the Yukon (wherever there is shale geology that might be exploited by fracking) and all Yukoners (regardless of where they live) will bear the brunt of this destructive technology. Therefore, the committee should be prepared to travel to all Yukon communities to conduct that “public dialogue for sharing information.” Without that dialogue there can be no social licence to proceed with fracking, no matter how well regulated. (As an aside: Anyone who has done any research into fracking will quickly discover that: the regulators can monitor only a fraction of the projects; the oil and gas industry is often left to regulate itself; 15-20 per cent of the wells in Alberta, for example, fail every year; and regulation cannot prevent environmental degradation). Social licence (approval by Yukoners) was described by several presenters during the select committee hearings on hydraulic fracturing as being essential before government approval. The committee will only visit a community if requested to do so. Since the February 28 news release there has been no media promotion by the committee about this process. Why not? Secondly, not everyone in Yukon has a computer or computer access to complete the request online. Have allowances been made for other methods of requesting the committee visit? How many community requests does it take to trigger a visit? And from whom? Decisions about hydraulic fracturing and its implications are far too serious to be left to arbitrary methods of sharing information and obtaining public input. The select committee should agree to provide the public dialogue promised in its mandate and visit all Yukon communities.

Rick Griffiths

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