NDP wants gas drilling rules tightened

NDP critics want to tighten the rules and take a close look at the environmental effects of the newest form of deep drilling.

NDP environment critic Rob Fleming and energy critic John Horgan want an independent scientific review of B.C.'s shale gas industry.

VICTORIA – With shale gas booming and work beginning for pipelines and export facilities in northern B.C., the NDP wants to tighten the rules and take a closer look at the environmental effects of the newest form of deep drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” injects large amounts of water and chemicals deep underground to crack shale layers and release trapped gas. Much of that contaminated water comes back up with the gas, where it must be collected and treated.

NDP energy critic John Horgan and environment critic Rob Fleming are calling for an end to short-term water permits issued by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and the formation of an scientific panel to examine the cumulative effects of widespread drilling and fracking.

“I think the notion that water’s free, that water is there for their use unreservedly is past, and the time for a scientific assessment of the impacts of the industry has arrived,” Horgan said.

They also want a review of the carbon dioxide emissions from shale gas development, and the effect on B.C.’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The B.C. Liberal government has promised a health and safety study of effects of the booming gas industry on air and groundwater, to begin by the end of the year.

“Because water is the major concern at this point in time with hydraulic fracturing and the unconventional natural gas sector, we’re looking at changing the way B.C. currently does business, closing some loopholes, or temporary practices that have become a standard way of doing business,” Fleming said.

Horgan said the NDP is not calling for a halt to the sale of drilling rights or a moratorium on development. The scientific panel should hold public hearings in northeastern B.C. to hear from residents affected by drilling, water treatment ponds and pipelines on farmland.

Shale layers in northeastern B.C. are three kilometres or more underground. Horgan said he does not believe these deep layers represent a threat to groundwater, as with shallow coalbed methane deposits that can contaminate well water and make it flammable.

He said the B.C. government should continue to fund a farmers’ advocacy group in the Peace region, and have all water permits issued by the natural resources ministry.

Just Posted

Royal Bay students hope to break records for West Shore’s largest food drive

10,000 Tonight takes place on Dec. 11 from 5 to 10 p.m.

Save-On-Foods stocks the pantry at Jeneece Place

Grocer donates groceries, gift cards, to Greater Victoria facility each winter

VicPD seek missing 82-year-old man with long grey beard

Arthur Shaw was last seen Dec. 6, those who see him should call 911

Victoria Police Department taking too long to respond to emergency calls

A new report says VicPD is not meeting its 911 response targets

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

The Russell Troupe finds a comfort zone in small Island community

Family gathering with two parents and five kids a common scene around Chemainus

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Truck with body inside found at bottom of lake near Kootenay ferry

Investigators believe no foul play is expected but are unsure how the vehicle ended up in the Arrow Lakes

VIDEO: Calgary man narrowly escapes from avalanche while running at Lake Louise

Bryon Howard caught the entire wild experience on camera

Most Read