Frack Free Yukon Alliance pushing for legally binding referendum on hydraulic fracturing; Calls MLA’s report weak, a distortion of what was presented

Alliance seeks direct vote on fracking issue by Chuck Tobin, January 22, 2015, Whitehorse Daily Star

2015 01 22 Frack Free Yukon Alliance pushing for referendum vote on fracturing Front Page Whitehorse Daily Star

LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE – Frackfree Yukon alliance members Peter Becker, Jean-Francois Deslauriers and Jacqueline Vigneux  discuss their strategy to pursue a referendum during Wednesday afternoon’s news conference.

The Frackfree Yukon Alliance wants to hold a referendum on whether fracking should be permitted inside Whitehorse city limits.

The Frackfree Yukon Alliance wants to hold a referendum on whether fracking should be permitted inside Whitehorse city limits.

The organization held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to denounce this week’s report to the legislature on hydraulic fracturing and discuss its future plans to push for a legally-binding referendum.

The report is weak. As well, its summary misrepresents what the legislative committee heard, and it sidesteps the key question of whether fracking should be banned in the Yukon, Frackfree representatives told reporters.

In fact, they said, the report plays right into the hands of the oil and gas industry, and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Products has already described the 25-page document as a good report.

Peter Becker said the review by the legislative committee and its report recommending further studies is a classic example of the strategy used by industry to keep the discussion going while industry gradually moves in.

The anti-fracking movement calls it talk and frack, or frack and talk, he said. Becker said it’s happening in the Yukon right now.

While Northern Cross and EFLO Energy Yukon insist they have no intention at this time to conduct hydraulic fracturing in their exploration programs, their methods of exploration are used exclusively for fracking projects, he said.

Becker said their methods don’t fit with conventional oil and gas production.

The report to the legislature is simply buying time for the industry, said Jean-Francois Deslauriers.

The six-member, all-party legislative committee was struck in May 2013 to look at the benefits and risks of permitting hydraulic fracturing in the Yukon. Yukon Party MLA and committee chair Patti McLeod delivered the report Monday morning.

NDP committee members said this week that division along party lines – three Yukon Party members versus two NDP and one Liberal – resulted in a stalemate on the question of whether fracking can be done safely, and whether it should be permitted in the Yukon.

A good number of the 21 recommendations call for more research to better understand its impact on water, air, wildlife and human health. The Yukon Party government has indicated it will issue its response to the report once it’s had time to complete a thorough assessment of it.

“Frackfree Yukon Alliance holds that the tenor of the select committee’s report is focused on building a case for the eventual authorization of fracking, against the wishes of the individuals and groups of Yukon citizens who overwhelmingly, categorically and unequivocally communicated to the committee that they wanted a complete ban on the practice of fracking in the Yukon,” said Deslauriers.

He said the committee’s report speaks to the need for a greater understanding of the industry before Yukoners can make an informed decision.

“We don’t need more research,” he insisted. “The verdict is already in.”

There needs to be a ban on fracking in the Yukon if the territory’s pristine environment is to be protected. The committee did indeed hear much evidence about the dangers of fracking, the Frackfree representatives said.

“Dozens of other jurisdictions have conducted research much broader than anything the Yukon could afford to do, and many have enacted a complete ban on the practice,” said Deslauriers. … He said the organization is drafting a proposed bylaw for Whitehorse residents to consider banning fracking inside city limits, and they encourage the other seven communities covered by the Municipal Act to do the same.

Not only would it address fracking inside city limits, but it would also send a strong message with fewer than two years to go before the next territorial election, suggested the Frackfree representatives.

Deslauriers said Frackfree Yukon will be meeting in two weeks with its sister organization, Yukoners Concerned About Oil and Gas Exploration/Development, to discuss the referendum strategy.

Yukoners Concerned, he pointed out, has already compiled a Yukon-wide anti-fracking petition supported by some 8,000 Yukoners.

Under the Municipal Act, eligible Whitehorse voters can force a legally binding referendum if it can present a petition to city council supported by at least 25 per cent of the electorate. Rob Fendrick, the city’s director of corporate services, said today there were 12,763 names on the voters list in 2012. That would mean a petition supported by at least 3,190 voters is required to force a referendum.

The act, however, also states referenda can only be held on matters that fall within the city’s jurisdiction. Fendrick said whether oil and gas activity inside city limits falls within city hall’s jurisdiction is unclear. The proposal is hypothetical right now, so the city is just observing at this point, he said.

See related story below; letter, commentary. [Emphasis]

Industry says research will prove fracking safe in Yukon, ‘There’s lots of misinformation, and a bit of fear-mongering at times floating out there’ by CBC News, January 21, 2015

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says it welcomes more research on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Yukon because that would help the territory’s fledgling gas industry.  Aaron Miller, the northern Canada manager for the association, is commenting on recommendations from a Yukon legislative committee that calls for more research into the effects of fracking on air, land, water and people.

“There’s lots of misinformation, and a bit of fear-mongering at times floating out there,” Miller says. “But again, we’re very confident that if the government takes its time, looks at the facts, sound science and track records of more mature jurisdictions, it’ll become pretty clear that this has and can be done safely,” he says.

Miller says social acceptance is “absolutely critical” before fracking occurs….

He says ultimately it’s up to all Yukoners, not just the government, to decide whether they want a gas industry.  [Emphasis added]

[Reality Check for CAPP:

2011: European Union Frac Report, Impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction on the environment and on human health

2011 June EU report on fracing, high risk if not done right, possible high risk even if done right

2013: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Says It’s Unconstitutional For Gas Companies To Frack Wherever They Want

“By any responsible account,” [Pennsylvanian Supreme Court] Chief Justice Castille wrote, “the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and the future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.”

2014: State of Science on Harms by Fracking to Public Health and Water: Health Professionals, Scientists Release Analysis of 400 Peer-Reviewed Studies on Fracking along with Major Scientific Compendium Update

2014: BC OGC Report: From August 2013 to October 2014 Fracking directly caused 193 earthquakes (11 felt on surface), 38 more caused by waste injection, in Montney basin area surrounding Dawson Creek and Ft St John

2014: New York State to ban fracking because of red flags to public health. Health Commissioner Howard Zucker: “Would I let my child play in a school field nearby? After looking at the plethora of reports, my answer would be no.”

2014: Quebec’s Premier Declares Province-wide Shale Gas Ban after Environmental Review Board (BAPE) says Fracking Not Worth The Risk, “Too many negative consequences to the environment and society…risks to air and water quality…noise and light pollution”

2014: Germany EPA Frac Report Released: Risks Associated with Fracing are Too High; “So far, no company has been able to present a sustainable waste management concept”

For more Yukon Frac Report details:

ANOTHER FRAC MORATORIUM IN CANADA? After months of public consultations throughout the territory and a trip to Alberta, Yukon Legislature’s Frac Committee could not come to consensus on whether fracing should be allowed!~

This entry was posted in Global Frac News. Bookmark the permalink.