Political parties in Nova Scotia appear to have shifted views on hydraulic fracturing

Activists press parties on fracking in Nova Scotia by Davene Jefrey, September 20, 2013, The Chronicle Herald
Nova Scotia’s three largest political parties appear to be moving closer to saying no to fracking, says a coalition of environmental activists. On Thursday, the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition released the results of a hydraulic fracturing-related questionnaire it had asked the Liberal, Tory, NDP and Green parties to answer. “All the parties seem to have shifted their position,” said Angela Giles, with the Council of Canadians. “(Their answers reflect) a greater understanding of the potential harm that can come from fracking.” Only the Green party said it supports completely banning the controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale rock. None of the three other parties said they are prepared to support a 10-year moratorium. The NDP and Liberals say they would only allow fracking if it was proven not to be environmentally harmful. “The NDP will not allow hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia unless Nova Scotians know that it will not harm the environment,” the New Democrat response reads. In its answer, the NDP takes a swipe at the Tories for previously allowing fracking in the Kennetcook-Windsor Basin-Minas Basin area and the Liberals for ignoring “serious public concerns by proposing that the province pick green fracking.”

The Tories said they would support fracking if it were regulated “to provide a superior level of protection, including firm protection for our groundwater.” The Progressive Conservatives also said they would not force fracking on communities. “The tenor of public opinion is against fracking,” said Mark Tipperman, a coalition steering committee member. Cape Breton University president David Wheeler is heading an independent review panel looking into fracking. Its report is expected next year, and until then, all fracking in the province has been stopped. The Liberals criticized the NDP for taking so long to establish the independent study, saying that the Grits have been calling for a review for years. “Until we can definitively determine that fracking will not harm our resources, our environment, or the general public in any way, the extraction procedure should be prohibited,” the Liberal response reads.

The group praised the Liberals for taking a stand against the importation of fracking waste water in their response. “If regulations that ensure safe fracturing can be put in place, a P.C. government would ensure they are clear and based on reputable science,” the Tories wrote. None of the three major parties mentioned concerns for First Nations fishing and aquatic rights in their responses, Tipperman said. “It’s not yet clear (the three major parties) recognize the major costs” involved in the fracking process, Tipperman said.

Those costs include testing public and private water supplies before, during and for years after fracking, as well as the cost of supplying alternative water sources if contamination should occur. Also, there are health costs and the wear and tear of heavy equipment on roads to consider, Tipperman said. [Emphasis added]

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