The Pasloski government has recently advertised in Yukon papers for public comment on 12 posting requests for oil and gas rights in southern Yukon.
I am pleased to see that the Yukon Party government is asking Yukoners to submit in writing their concerns about the extraction of natural gas from our land but I see no attempt at allowing the public to see the results of the submitted comments.
We need public meetings for all Yukoners to discuss this project and submitted comments.
Governments must understand that resources belong to the people and not politicians. Yukoners must have accurate information and the ability to ask questions of politicians, experts and the government people hired to lead these initiatives.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the extraction of natural gas throughout the world and much of it has not been positive. If the requests for natural gas drilling in the areas indicated on the advertisement in the papers are approved, this means the most populated area of the Yukon will be affected.
What oil and gas companies are looking for is shale gas and this type of drilling creates a new set of problems for Yukoners. One of the methods in obtaining this gas is called “fracking.” Fracking is a technology in which the shale rock is cracked open by chemical-laced water blasted underground along with sand to prop the cracks open.
There has been a great backlash in many parts of the U.S., France, Quebec and European countries that fracking pollutes groundwater, is linked to increased cancer rates and may even cause earthquakes.
Yukoners must demand public forums so we can ask the politicians and experts some of the following questions:
What environmental and health safeguards will be in place to ensure the Yukon remains a pristine land?
Who will be buying the natural gas?
(Currently, there is a surplus of natural gas in North America and the price is half of what it was a few years ago.)
Will Yukoners be provided with cheap natural gas?
Who will pay for the infrastructure to provide natural gas to Yukoners?
Will a pipeline be built from the Yukon to southern markets if massive reserves of natural gas are found in the Yukon?
(With the permanent postponement of the Mackenzie Valley Corridor and Foothills gas pipelines I doubt a Yukon pipeline will be built.)
There are many more questions that must be asked before decisions are made to drill for oil and gas in the Yukon.
The big question for all Yukoners will be: Do we really want to go down this road without having all the information and a serious debate about the merits of this technology?
We need to proceed only with utmost caution with any massive oil and gas development in the Yukon. We do not want lasting environmental and health repercussions for people today and for future generations.
I do hope the Pasloski government will engage Yukoners in an open and transparent way on this major issue so we can all be part of the democratic decision-making.
I would ask all Yukoners to phone, write, email your MLAs and demand that public forums take place on this very important issue before any firm decisions are made.
Donald J. Roberts