CBU president defends his approach to fracking review by Cape Breton Post, January 02, 2014
The president of Cape Breton University says an anti-fracking group’s criticism of his approach to a review of the process in Nova Scotia misunderstands the process that is underway. … Last year the province appointed David Wheeler to chair an independent review of the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia. “What we’re doing here is establishing multiple levels of expertise and involvement for the general public and indeed experts locally and nationally,” Wheeler said. “One layer of expertise we need is a group of technical experts who are consultants to our process who do what we ask them to do and, as any consultant will do, they come with their expertise.”
In a recent open letter to the provincial Liberal government, the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition set out concerns with the independent review of hydraulic fracturing. … “Nova Scotians were promised a thorough, independent and scientific review of hydraulic fracturing, and we don’t seem to be on track to achieve these goals through the current process,” Barb Harris, NOFRAC steering committee member, stated in the letter. Specifically, Harris said they had concerns about the recent appointment of three technical consultants by Wheeler, one of whom the group described as being associated with the petroleum industry. The group also questioned the consultants’ areas of expertise, suggesting that health and social issues did not appear to be a priority. The coalition indicated it is concerned that there are no public meetings planned as part of the review, and that there is insufficient time for public response.
Wheeler said it’s unfair to assume that consultants come with bias. He noted there will also be a panel appointed which will be more independent. That is expected to be in place by the end of January. “We’re nearly there, we’ve got people short-listed,” he said. “That hopefully creates a sense of confidence for all stakeholders that we have a level of independent advice as well as more specific technical consultants who are advising us on our agenda.”
He noted it is natural that some of the information the review is seeking would come from those with involvement in and knowledge of the industry. “If we need expertise on how much of a particular resource exists in a particular geology then it’s likely that that expertise comes from a place, whilst it’s independent, comes from a place that is about industry knowledge,” Wheeler said.
Overall, the process is going well, he added. The first paper, which will define fracking [Why? Industry and energy departments/regulators globally defined hydraulic fracturing decades ago. (“Fracking” is slang.) Is Dr. Wheel and his review experts planning to exclude hydraulic fracturing of vertical and coalbed methane and other non-shale wells? Companies are planning to frac CBM in Nova Scotia and are already falsely claiming they don’t frac the coals, only “stimulate” them. Hydraulic fracturing is one type of well stimulation.], is under development. Once completed, it will be open for review by the panel, the public and stakeholders. A rolling program of discussions will follow, Wheeler said, which will include input from the public as well as experts. The process will be transparent, he added. … The review led by Wheeler is scheduled to end in June [if panel is picked by the end of January, that leaves only 5 months to review] and will report to the province with recommendations. [Emphasis and comments added]
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