Let’s discuss fracking with the experts

Let's discuss fracking with the experts Open letter to Patti McLeod and the select committee on hydraulic fracturing, Thank you for the update you provided in your open letter of September 24, 2013. The Yukon Conservation Society is encouraged by the wo

Open letter to Patti McLeod and the select committee on hydraulic fracturing,

Thank you for the update you provided in your open letter of September 24, 2013. The Yukon Conservation Society is encouraged by the work you describe in your letter and would like to follow up on some points.

We look forward to reviewing the presentations and briefing notes on hydraulic fracturing that you receive from Yukon government departments, the water board and YESAB. When can the public expect to see them on your website?

It was in the spirit of the educational process you refer to in your public letter that we invited the committee to the recent workshop on hydraulic fracturing facilitated by Andrew Nikiforuk. We were pleased that some of you were able to attend the evening public lecture.

YCS notes that the committee plans to visit a gas field that uses hydraulic fracturing. It would be most educational to visit sites that are examples of best practices and others that show negative impacts from fracking. Another way to understand risks as well industry’s benefit claims would be to engage two guides/interpreters: one from industry and another to talk about the risks to the local environment, communities and traditional lifestyles.

Caleb Behn from Treaty 8 territory, which includes the Horn River Basin, would be a good example of someone to provide the community perspective. He is a graduate of the University of Victoria’s faculty of law, and is a well-known public speaker about the effects of the oil and gas industry on his community and traditional territory.

When the select committee was initially struck, its mandate included community visits to Watson Lake and Old Crow. It now appears that Whitehorse has been added to the list with the possibility of additional communities. YCS cannot reiterate strongly enough that all Yukoners need to be consulted because fracking would affect everyone. The select committee must hold public hearings in all Yukon communities and offer to meet with all First Nations.

We were encouraged to read in your letter that you are committed to learning about both the potential benefits and risks of hydraulic fracturing. To help you achieve this balance, it is necessary to engage experts who will share with you and the Yukon public some of the environmental, social and economic risks of fracking.

YCS would be happy to partner with the select committee to bring any or all of the following experts to the territory:

* Anthony Ingraffea, a professor of engineering at Cornell University in New York, where he studies how solids fracture. He is an expert on the risks associated with well integrity and fracking in general.

* David Hughes, a geoscientist with the Geological Survey of Canada for 32 years, and unconventional gas specialist on the Canadian Gas Potential Committee.

* Deborah Rogers, a Texas-based economist and financial analyst who studies the economics of shale oil and gas.

* Gilles Wendling, a B.C.-based hydrogeologist who specializes in the assessment and protection of water, specifically groundwater.

YCS looks forward to the opportunity to present to the select committee this fall.

Sebastian Jones

Energy Co-ordinator

Yukon Conservation Society