Some facts on fracking

Some facts on fracking Re: Meet the frackers (The News, Jan. 15): Representatives of the oil and gas industry visited Whitehorse last week to address the chamber of commerce and give interviews to the media. Contained within their addresses are several m

Re: Meet the frackers (The News, Jan. 15):

Representatives of the oil and gas industry visited Whitehorse last week to address the chamber of commerce and give interviews to the media. Contained within their addresses are several misleading statements and some troubling indications of industry’s attitude towards Yukon.

The representative of MGM Energy Corp. said fracking does not pollute ground water, and that it is safe. In contrast, the Yukon select committee on fracking heard from a family in Alberta who were badly harmed by fracking.

The representative from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) says they have drilled and fracked 171,000 wells with no contamination of drinking water. Jessica Ernst, a retired Encana scientist, has amassed a compelling database to refute that assertion.

A most troubling aspect of this statement is that CAPP would appear to be confusing multi-stage slick water horizontal fracking with the low pressure kind of stimulation that was historically used to revive a conventional well. Of the 171,000 wells referred to, only 6,000 have been fracked in the sense we understand it now.

CAPP also asserts that the shale boom in the U.S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Well, this depends on how you count them. For one thing, the figures quoted do not account for the methane leakage associated with fracking. Neither does it account for the fact that U.S. coal mines simply switched from supplying U.S. power plants to foreign plants. Shale gas has not reduced coal mining; it has not reduced emissions.

CAPP says that less than one per cent of B.C. water licences are issued to the oil and gas industry. This is because most fracking operations in B.C. do not get water licences; they get “temporary” permits instead. A better comparison would be to Alberta, where 10 per cent of water licences go to the industry.

MGM Energy says we should rely on the science. On this note I agree, and the science is clear: fracking causes lots of problems, it is unsafe, and it has never been properly regulated to protect human and environmental health. The question is whether the money that might flow to some Yukoners is worth it.

MGM Energy also “thinks there is very little chance hydraulic fracturing will contaminate groundwater anywhere in the world.” I suggest anyone who thinks that should come and check out B.C.-based hydrogeologist Dr. Gilles Wendling’s presentation on precisely how this does happen. He will be giving a free public lecture on Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.

MGM’s discussion of their operation in the Sahtu didn’t mention how they bailed when required to undergo an environmental assessment. They maintain that fracking as part of an exploration project should not need an environmental assessment. That is not the way we do things here in Yukon.

MGM says Yukon can control the pace of development. This has not proven true anywhere else; it really would be naive of us to think that this time it will be different.

MGM concludes that we do not need to become a Fort Nelson. I agree. We like the Yukon just fine the way it is, thank you very much: frack free.

Sebastian Jones

Energy Co-ordinator

Yukon Conservation Society