Nova Scotia NOFRAC coalition worried about fracking review by Dr. David Wheeler, Too much secrecy, not enough consultation, and scope too narrow

EPA FRACKING STUDY – Thought you should know by Dory Hippauf, December 21, 2013, No Fracking Way
Regarding the EPA hydraulic fracturing study and at the attendees list for the Dec 9, 2013 Round table meeting: …

There were a total of 36 participants and 2 observers. Of that: 19 participants are from fossil fuel industry, including 2 from Exxon-Mobil, and 2 from Halliburton. Of the observers, there was one from American Petroleum Institute Totals: 20 out of 38 with direct fossil fuel interests 

The scope of the study is limited to “fracking”, not the entire process of unconventional drilling, meaning EPA study is confined to the moment of explosion and shattering of the shale only. Migration through natural fault lines or fractures, faulty well casings etc are not taken into consideration. This is akin to saying a gunshot doesn’t kill/injure people if you define a gunshot as the moment where the hammer hits the bullet and ignore everything else after that moment. The final official version won’t be out until sometime in 2014, however given the narrow definition of “fracking” being used and that 54% of those at this roundtable are fossil fuelers we can make a good guess what it will say. [Emphasis added]

Nova Scotia anti-fracking coalition worried about fracking review, Too much secrecy, not enough consultation, and scope too narrow by Robert Devet, December 17, 2013, Halifax Media Coop
K’JIPUKTUK, HALIFAX – In late August the government announced a comprehensive review of hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia. The review is led by Dr. David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University. Now NOFRAC, a coalition of more than fifteen environmental and community organizations, criticizes the Wheeler review for being too limited in scope and lacking public input and independence. “The Review as presently outlined, will not be the complete and independent scientific review promised by the Liberal Party in the party’s election platform,” the coalition states in an open letter to government that was made public this morning. Concern among environmentalists has been growing as more information about the planned approach becomes available.

Now that three technical experts have been appointed and the terms of the contract between Dr. Wheeler and the government have been posted, NOFRAC decided there was sufficient evidence to go public with its concerns. One concern is the time set aside to do the review. “The review is under the contract something that must be completed by the middle of next year,” Mark Tipperman, member of the NOFRAC Steering Committee, tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “And that is wholly inadequate.” Tipperman points to standard environmental assessments, which typically take much longer although those reviews deal with a more narrow scope and cover much smaller geographic areas.

Not only is there not enough time to do the job, opportunities for public input will be minimal. “There is an opportunity for the public to nominate members of the review panel, and that is good,” says Tipperman, “but Dr. Wheeler picks his consultants on his own, and he picks and chooses from among the nominated panel members.” Tipperman also sees no evidence that there will be public meetings during the review. Even the conclusions that the review panel reaches will not be subject to public discussion prior to becoming final, Tipperman says. Tipperman notes that the proposed code of conduct for panel members states that no communication may occur about what the panel members are talking about.

Scope of the review is also very problematic for NOFRAC. “The problem with the scope is that it is unclear,” says Tipperman. “There is supposed to be a fairly broad scope but when you look at the itemized list [in the contract] it is rather specific and leaves a lot of things unmentioned.” What are missing are things like the impact of fracking on the health of Nova Scotians. “Health is a critical impact of fracking, the contamination of the water and the air is pretty well established, I mean the the toxic nature of the material deployed and released during the fracking process,” says Tipperman. All that the review offers in terms of health impact is a literature review, Tipperman explains. But that is not good enough, especially because none of the technical consultants Dr. Wheeler hired have a background in health.

The coalition does not like that one of the recently hired consultants is the CEO of a company that actively promotes hydraulic fracturing. This does little to reassure Tipperman or other members of NOFRAC, who do not expect that environmentalists or community representatives will be appointed to the review panel. “Nova Scotians were promised a thorough, independent scientific review of the entire industry. What we are getting is a very superficial look at hydraulic fracturing, in a very limited number of subject areas, based on summaries prepared by three consultants with narrow backgrounds,” the open letter concludes. In an email response to the open letter provided by the Department of Energy and sent to the Halifax Media Co-op on December 17th the government takes issue with some of the criticisms issued in the open letter while remaining silent on others. “We encourage Nova Scotians to become involved with this review and there are many ways they can do so. Written submissions will be accepted. There will be on-line forums and surveys starting in January, and public forums will begin in February, giving Nova Scotians multiple ways to have their say.,” writes Darcy MacRae, spokesperson for the department. The email also states that the contract with Dr. Wheeler allows for an extension beyond June 2014 if necessary to complete the work. [Emphasis added]

Expert Panel Update Sent by Project Administrator, Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy & the Environment, Cape Breton University, December 9, 2013
The expert panel nomination period closed on November 29th. We received nearly 70 nominations and thank all those who contributed and put names forward. We would like to have all panel members appointed before January 2014 and will make another announcement when the full panel is established.

Advisory Team
On behalf of Dr. David Wheeler, Chair of the Hydraulic Fracturing Independent Review and Public Consultation in Nova Scotia, I would like to announce the appointment of three advisors to the Hydraulic Fracturing Review. This advisory team will work with Dr. Wheeler and the Expert Panel throughout the process. The advisory team is comprised of three experts with complementary skills and knowledge and nationally recognised expertise:

Primary Technical Advisor – Fred Baechler, Chief Hydrogeologist, exp Services Inc.

Mr. Baechler is currently the Chief Hydrogeologist and a senior hydrologist with exp Services inc., he is based in Sydney, and he is also an adjunct professor with Cape Breton University. His experience and expertise with hydrogeological issues associated with hydraulic fracturing relate to his understanding of both deep crustal scale groundwater conditions as well as the shallow groundwater systems and streams. Mr. Baechler will be responsible for providing ongoing advice to the Chair and members of the Expert Panel and he will lead the writing of summary papers based on evidence received.

Senior Advisor – Keith MacLeod, CEO and Chairman, Sproule

Mr. MacLeod is a director and partner of Sproule, a worldwide petroleum consulting firm based in Calgary. Mr. MacLeod is trained as a petroleum engineer and his experience at Sproule has been primarily in the areas of property and corporate reserves/resource evaluations, acquisitions and divestitures, securities commission reports, and investment advice. Mr. MacLeod will be acting as senior advisor to the team, thru his involvement with the Verschuren Centre board of directors, with a particular emphasis on shale gas resources/reserves assessment and development strategies.

Special Advisor – Michael Gardner, President, Gardner Pinfold

Mr. Gardner is President of Gardner Pinfold based in Halifax, whose mission is to provide comprehensive professional services covering all aspects of economic consultancy. Mr. Gardner is trained in law and economics and has advised various Royal Commissions, federal and provincial Task Forces and the Government of Canada in international arbitrations. Mr. Gardner also has extensive international experience, with assignments in some 35 countries for such agencies as CIDA and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Mr. Gardner will provide an economic analysis of Hydraulic Fracturing risks and benefits in Nova Scotia.

Re: Hydraulic Fracturing Review Expert Panel Nomination
Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2013 08:55:46 -0700
From: Jessica Ernst email hidden; JavaScript is required
To: HFReview email hidden; JavaScript is required

Dear Ms. MacGregor,

Thank you for your email and links. Please find my CV attached.

Full disclosure: I am suing Encana, the Alberta government and energy
regulator for unlawful activities regarding hydraulic fracturing, breach
of my Charter rights and the contamination of my water. Justice Wittmann recently granted the energy regulator complete immunity, even for the Charter breach.  My lawyers advised me this morning that our Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeal in Calgary was couriered yesterday, to be filed either today or early next week. Updates to the lawsuit and legal filings are public.

Please email if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you.


Jessica Ernst

Hydraulic Fracturing Review Expert Panel Nomination
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2013 13:02:25 -0400
From: HFReview email hidden; JavaScript is required

Hello Jessica, You have been nominated to be a member of the Expert Panel on Hydraulic Fracturing in Nova Scotia. If you would like to accept this nomination please send me a copy of your CV. Details on the call for nominations can be found here: and the panel code of conduct, which we ask you to review, can be found here:

Kind regards,

Margo MacGregor
Project Administrator

Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in
Energy & the Environment
Cape Breton University

Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Twitter: @HFReview_CBU

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