shale gas development

Thu, 2011-04-21 16:43TJ Scolnick
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New Brunswick Energy Commission Recommends Expanding Unconventional Gas Development Despite Fracking Threat To Climate

The New Brunswick Energy Commission released its Public Feedback Document on the province’s 10-year energy policy plan earlier this week. Despite recent public outcry and growing scientific concern about threats to drinking water, health and the global climate posed by fracked unconventional gas, the Energy Commission recommends continuing to develop heavily polluting dirty gas, contradicting both renewable energy and carbon emission reduction goals.

The province’s Premier asked the Energy Commission’s co-Chairs William Thompson and Jeannot Volpé to engage with the public on the province’s energy future beginning in October 2010. Today’s document was developed from more than 1,400 completed surveys submitted online, over 200 public dialogue attendee surveys, more than 60 stakeholder group meetings and some 75 public presentations.

The health risks and environmental degradation (like pollution and overuse of freshwater) that comes with unconventional shale gas extracted through hydraulic fracturing (fracking) are increasingly well known. The Commissioners, regrettably, are still fully supportive of rapidly expanding this dirty gas drilling boom as an economic asset and development tool, stating:

Thu, 2011-04-14 14:52TJ Scolnick
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New Brunswick Is Canada's Next Shale Gas Fracking Battle Front

On Canada’s east coast, American oil and gas companies are doubling down and betting that the small maritime province of New Brunswick is the next shale gas hot spot.

How has New Brunswick become a primary destination for oil and gas companies? Two reasons in particular stand out: 1) The government does not know how it will manage shale gas exploration (having only just released its “framework for a long-term action plan to manage the exploration, development and utilization of domestic natural gas” last Thursday evening) - which means companies that invest early will have a say in developing gas exploitation policies; 2) In terms of gas concentrations per square kilometer, New Brunswick may hold North America’s largest shale bed [PDF].

New Brunswick was not on the gas industry’s radar a couple of years ago but things are changing rapidly as American gas developers are rushing across the border to snap up exploration rights in order to win big in the destructive shale boom.

Fri, 2011-03-25 10:19TJ Scolnick
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Maryland House Votes For Moratorium On Shale Gas Development And Fracking

Maryland’s House of Representatives voted 98-40 for HB 852, a de-facto moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and Marcellus Shale drilling in the western part of the state. The bill passed the House after five amendments attempting to block it were handily rejected.

Known as the Maryland Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011, the legislation seeks to restrict shale gas development and the dangerous drilling method of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) until 2013 and the completion of a major two-year drinking water and environmental impact assessment.

Jessie Thomas-Blate of American Rivers, an environmental conservation group, notes that the risky fracking process creates a very briny wastewater that could potentially contaminate nearby drinking water supplies permanently.

As Thomas-Blate points out, “If you contaminate people’s water, you can’t go back.”

Mon, 2011-03-07 12:37TJ Scolnick
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New Scientific Community Will Hold Québec Government Accountable On Shale Gas

While Québecers anxiously wait for Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks to publicly release the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) study on the future of shale gas development and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) in the province, a group of more than 100 researchers and scientists known as the Collectif scientifique sur la question du gaz de schiste au Québec has declared that they will serve a permanent watchdog function over the shale industry. Additionally, they will promote accountability and transparency by government on its shale gas policies and will intensively study and communicate any shortfalls in the BAPE’s findings to the public.

The Collectif scientifique correctly insists that not enough is known about shale gas drilling and fracking, and describes the shale industry’s tactics as “invasive.” Given the controversies surrounding shale gas and fracking, this newly formed scientific community is calling for an immediate moratorium on drilling until Premier Jean Charest and his Liberal government produce a credible and realistic energy policy focusing on energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy and not dirty fossil fuels like gas.

Tue, 2011-03-01 10:05TJ Scolnick
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Shale Gas and Fracking In Québec Under Intense Scrutiny

Late last summer, Québec’s Liberal government announced a provincial study and a series of public hearings on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas industry practice under increasingly intense review following a bombshell New York Times investigation into fracking threats to drinking water and public health.

This week, the commission that the Quebec government set up to review fracking and shale development, called the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), submitted its far-reaching report on the future of shale gas development in Québec, but it won’t be available for public review until Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, releases it, which could be anytime within the next 60 days.

Fri, 2011-01-21 15:27TJ Scolnick
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Britain Ignores Tyndall Centre Report Urging Shale Gas Moratorium At Its Own Peril

Despite the evidence of significant potential risks presented in a recent report by the Tyndall Centre, the British government says it will forge ahead with plans for shale gas development in the UK. The Tyndall Centre’s study, “Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts” [PDF], urged the UK to place a moratorium on shale gas in light of serious risks associated with shale gas development, including the contamination of ground and surface waters, the expected net increase of CO2 emissions, and substantial monetary costs which could delay major investments in clean energy technologies.

Shale gas extraction involves drilling into shale formations followed by a rock fracturing process which uses heavily polluting chemicals. Especially in the US with the introduction of drilling “refinements” known as hydrofracturing or “fracking,” shale gas extraction has become highly divisive, and ever more popular among natural gas producers (making up nearly 10% of production by some estimates). The significant water contamination and public health risks associated with shale gas are well documented in last year’s “Gasland” film.

Paul Monaghan, the Co-operative’s head of sustainability describes shale gas as “like tar sands in your backyard, both in terms of local pollution and in terms of carbon emissions.”

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