Fracking committee tables final report

The Yukon Legislative Assembly’s fracking committee has agreed that First Nations should have a veto over hydraulic fracturing projects in their traditional territory.

The Yukon Legislative Assembly’s fracking committee has agreed that First Nations should have a veto over hydraulic fracturing projects in their traditional territory.

The committee, charged with reviewing the risks and benefits of fracking in the Yukon, released its final report and recommendations this morning.

Members of the group could not reach consensus on some of the essential questions, such as whether or not fracking can be safely regulated, and whether or not it should be allowed in the Yukon.

But the stipulation that hydraulic fracturing should have First Nation consent is significant.

In 2013 the Council of Yukon First Nations unanimously passed a resolution banning fracking within its members’ traditional territories.

However, the two First Nations most likely to be affected by fracking are not members of that umbrella group.

Yukon’s most developed oil and gas project is in the Kotaneelee field of southeast Yukon, in the traditional territory of the Liard First Nation.

Back in 2012 that First Nation was in a very public fight with the Yukon government over plans to remove a legislative veto LFN had held over oil and gas development there.

Now the legislative committee has recommended that the veto be reinstated, at least when it comes to fracking.

The company with a majority stake in that natural gas project, EFLO Energy Inc., told the Yukon government last year that it may be looking to get at shale gas reserves by fracking in the next five to 10 years.

The Liard First Nation has indicated that it will oppose all fracking in the territory.

The Eagle Plain basin, within the traditional territory of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, is still in the exploration phase, and is not likely to be developed for production in the near future. Fracking, if it ever happens there, would be kicked even further down the line, since conventional oil and gas reserves are easier and cheaper to get at.

Vuntut Gwitchin has passed a resolution opposing fracking in its territory until the practice can be proved 100 per cent safe.

In addition to recommending a veto for First Nations, the fracking committee has suggested a number of measures to reduce the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

It has recommended that baseline data for water, air, wildlife, human health and land be collected so that impacts can be properly measured and managed.

The committee also recommended that the government complete a thorough study of the potential economic impacts of developing a fracking industry in the territory.

The full report is available on the Yukon Legislative Assembly website.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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