NDP MLA Jim Tredger has asked the Yukon government to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, until a full public and scientific review has been completed.
The controversial method of natural gas extraction involves shooting pressurized water and a cocktail of chemicals into the earth to break up the shale rock and release the gas trapped inside.
In other jurisdictions where the practice is common, nearby residents have complained of reduced water quality and health consequences. In the most dramatic examples, some people are able to light their tap water on fire.
Energy Minister Brad Cathers accused Tredger of alarming the public by making it sound like gas companies are ready to frack the territory tomorrow.
“The Member for Mayo-Tatchun consistently stands up and paints a picture that suggests that somehow someone is imminently applying to do hydraulic fracturing in the Yukon and he paints this as something that is very much to be feared,” said Cathers.
Tredger has pointed out that gas exploration companies have indeed expressed an interest in fracking the Kotaneelee gas field in the Liard River Basin, although they may have no immediate plans to do so.
“It’s not me who’s being alarmist; it’s a lack of information and clarity and a government that doesn’t appear to be listening that is alarming the people of the Yukon,” said Tredger.
“One day in the next few years, a company will apply to frack. Why is this minister so insistent on dodging the issue? Why won’t he encourage a public discussion now, instead of leaving it to the last minute?”