Approximately 15 members from Yukoners Concerned met with the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, Ranj Pillai, in early April to understand the new government’s energy priorities over the coming years.
He was also joined by John Streicker, Mininster of Community Services, and EMR deputy minister Stephen Mills. We were very pleased to have this opportunity for an open line of communication, given the previous government’s unwillingness to meet with us. The 90-minute meeting was a chance to explain the core motivations of our passionate group of citizens: protecting the Yukon’s land and water and ensuring that the Yukon is part of the solution to climate change rather than part of the problem.
We were pleased to get a re-affirmation from Pillai of the government’s election commitment that there will be no fracking in the territory. The minister was unequivocal on this point. However, we were disappointed to learn that the government intends to support conventional oil and gas development. Based on the best available research and the testimony of fracking expert, Anthony Ingraffea, there are no viable volumes of oil and gas that can be extracted without fracking in the Yukon because our geology is primarily shale. We know that for environmental and economic reasons, oil and gas development is not a road worth going down for the Yukon, and we are hopeful that the new government will soon realize this as well.
According to Pillai, the focus of the government is on renewable energy and they are looking at a number of different projects to get off the ground, as well as the potential for more clean energy based space heating. Minister Pillai also tempered our disappointment with the resource plan recently produced by Yukon Energy, which is heavy on diesel and liquified natural gas. He stressed that it is very much a draft plan.
We provided Pillai a number of questions on issues such as Eagle Plains, the wintering range of the Porcupine Caribou, and how the government defines conventional and unconventional development. We look forward to receiving those answers in the coming weeks. Overall, the meeting left us feeling cautiously optimistic about the direction the new Yukon government aims to take us. We will be working hard to hold them to their promise on no fracking, and to encourage them to take the path of renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, for the sake of our environment and future generations.
Don Roberts Chair,