Open letter to Resources Minister Brad Cathers:
Has hydraulic fracturing really been withdrawn by Northern Cross?
Recently, it was announced in the media that Northern Cross, which is currently drilling for oil and gas in Eagle Plains, has “requested that hydraulic fracturing stimulation be removed from consideration as part of the scope of their current YESAB application.”
We understand that this means that Northern Cross will continue exploratory drilling without using hydraulic fracturing. Should Northern Cross subsequently desire to employ hydraulic fracturing techniques, what process will they be obliged to follow to obtain permission to start hydraulic fracturing as, and when, the need arises?
If Northern Cross returns to Energy, Mines and Resources to inform you that hydraulic fracturing is necessary, will they be required to re-submit a revised proposal to YESAB that includes hydraulic fracturing, and will the public be given an opportunity to comment?
There is concern that without a full YESAB review or other formal hearings, Yukoners would only be aware that Northern Cross is fracking when they see hundreds of huge trucks from Alberta and British Columbia carrying secret lethal chemicals and huge quantities of specialized sand making their way north. We are concerned that Northern Cross may attempt to circumvent the YESAB process to achieve its goals, regardless of the permanent impacts to our water, air and environment.
Yukoners Concerned About Oil & Gas Development/Exploration urge that you, as the minister responsible for Energy, Mines and Resources, ensure that the questions put to Northern Cross by YESAB be answered fully. These are questions Yukoners have already asked and not received answers to as part of a legislated process.
Many jurisdictions in Canada, the United States and Europe have placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Indeed, the federal government has requested a review of hydraulic fracturing.
Surely Yukoners must be given the assurance that no backroom deal will occur and that transparency will be maintained. This cuts to the heart of ministerial responsibility. Too much is at stake for all Yukoners, not to be prudent and exercise due care when our water, air and environment are under threat.
Hydraulic fracturing is not a clean process for drilling for oil and gas when secret lethal chemicals and millions of litres of fresh water are forced under high pressure into the ground to release oil and gas. Moreover, there is no process presently available to purify the polluted water that returns to the surface after fracking, and cumulative effects are poorly understood.
In addition to the issues posed by Northern Cross’ actions described above, and given the highly controversial nature of hydraulic fracturing, Yukoners Concerned About Oil & Gas Development/Exploration urge the Yukon Party government to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until Yukoners have had the opportunity to examine and discuss the consequences of this process and whether it should be allowed in the Yukon, now or in the future.
Please respond in the next two weeks to the questions and concerns we have raised.
Chair, Yukoners Concerned About Oil & Gas Development/Exploration