Yukon Energy, Mines and Resources recently placed an ad in the local papers stating the Yukon River Valley along the Klondike Highway from north of Whitehorse to north of Carmacks may be opened to the oil and gas industry to begin exploration.
What they did not mention in the ad is that means fracking may be coming to a neighbourhood near you. Contrary to the benign picture the government website presents, fracking is a highly controversial process which has brought concerns and confrontations wherever it is used. Read the Wikipedia entry for another side to this issue, especially the section on environmental concerns such as groundwater contamination, air pollution and greenhouse gases.
Even more concerns were raised going to government web documents addressed to industry. In the web document Yukon Oil and Gas: A Northern Investment Opportunity, I read under the best practices section that these best practices are “recommended” and the government will provide “guidance” to reduce time spent on review processes.
This does not increase my trust in the review process. An average gas well can use 65,000 Ã 600,000 U.S. gallons of water for just initial drilling and 100,000 U.S. gallons of chemicals over the typical lifetime of a well. There are also disposal issues of the leftover contaminated water. Six hundred and fifty of the 750 compounds used in fracking are known or suspected carcinogens, yet a company can claim trade secrets and not disclose what they are using at any given site. The government website assures us, however, that the water initially used is 99 per cent pure and refers blandly to the other compounds as “polymers.”
In the above web document, the introductory letter to industry states that “our disposition process provides investment certainty for industry over the long term.”
Because the tone of the website suggests to me this current gas disposition exploration process is a done deal as far as the government is concerned, I have the following questions for the government.
What compensation plan is in place for damage to property, as my understanding of the law is that oil and gas exploration rights trump property rights in the Yukon?
How many of the recommended best practices will be mandated?
What insurance or other liability protections are in place for cleanup of an abandoned site found later to be contaminated?
Yet my question to all of us is, do we want the oil and gas industry to turn the road to Dawson into the road to Fort McMurray?
This may be the Yukon Party’s vision of prosperity, but is it our vision of the quality of life that we want?