One last oil and gas blowout

One last oil and gas blowout by John Thompson, March 23, 2012, Yukon News
Yukon government official Ron Sumanik graciously accepted the glass of water, perhaps unaware of the stinging reply to follow. “Drink it now,” said Julie Frisch. “It might not be good in the future.” … Werner Rhein brought a placard. One side read: “We agree that for now oil may run our cars. It should never run the Yukon government.” The other said: “Faro was regulated and licensed – of the time. So was Fukushima. Regulations don’t always protect. Don’t add Southern Lakes to the list.” More intriguingly, a couple silently stood in the back of the room with paper bags over their heads. “Pay to place your ad here,” was written on the masks. … Yukon Energy anticipates running out of surplus electricity next year largely thanks to a commitment to allow Victoria Gold’s proposed Eagle mine to plug into the grid. … On Monday, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers promised to ban shallow fracking. “He wouldn’t allow gas extraction in an aquifer,” said Sumanik. … And the fact it was World Water Day wasn’t lost on Malcolm Mills. Even poor countries, like Somalia, have banned fracking, he said. He wants the Yukon to do the same. “A country whose leaders are a bunch of warlords realized this was bad for its people,” he said. Linda Johnson wondered how big of a setback companies would have to obey if they obtained exploration rights close to her “piece of paradise” near Lake Laberge. “If there’s an oil and gas rig across the road, it may as well be on my property,” she said. The minimum setback is likely 100 metres, said Sumanik, provoking concerned chuckles in the room. But, he added, a greater setback could be decided during the regulatory review. … Steve Roddick asked officials to follow the precautionary principle and hold off on oil and gas exploration until it’s proven to be safe. Sumanik said he couldn’t speak for the minister, but regulators “take a precautionary approach,” he said. “These are responsible officials who care about the land and water.” Sean Smith, of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, wasn’t buying it. “You want to dump this water in tailings ponds, and you think it’ll be safe? That’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s a dirty business.”

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