University of Lethbridge Faculty Group Opposes Fracking in city of Lethbridge, letter to University Chair, Gordon E. Jong: Will Board of Governors join the community’s fight to keep fracking out?

U of L faculty group letter with 125 faculty endorsements, 94 names published in Lethbridge Herald, March 5, 2014

2014 03 05 U of Lethbridge 125 faculty oppose fracing in city of Lethbridge letter published in Lethbridge Herald w 94 faculty publicly listing their names

Letter below with 62 faculty endorsements as of 14 Feb. 2014

3 February, 2014
Gordon E. Jong, FCA
Chair, Board of Governors
University of Lethbridge

Dear Mr. Jong;

Facing imminent incursions of hydraulic fracturing on the home turf of the University of Lethbridge, we seek the help of the Board of Governors in pre-empting this dangerous and ill-considered industrial initiative. As a group of concerned faculty members, our goal is to enlist the primary governing body of our post-secondary institution in a movement given early support and leadership by the trustees of both Lethbridge School District #51 and the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division. Over recent months these school boards have given over their facilities for community meetings where citizens of Lethbridge, but especially of West Lethbridge, have conducted self-directed information sessions.

So far the central subject of these educational gatherings is the Goldenkey Oil corporation’s proposal to conduct hydraulic fracturing, in other words drilling and fracking, in West Lethbridge. The site of the proposed “exploratory wells” lies on municipal land within a two-mile radius of six schools. One of these schools is the University of Lethbridge, the primary seed of activity from which the urban development of West Lethbridge originally sprouted. It seems fitting that the University of Lethbridge should join together with the Public and Catholic school boards as well as our Mayor and City Council to oppose a project that bodes poorly for the future of our community generally and of our University more specifically.

The particular type of fracking being proposed for West Lethbridge entails significant danger of atmospheric poisoning from toxic blowouts including deadly H2S, hydrosulphuric acid. H2S is commonly known as “sour gas.” This danger necessitates the making of plans as well as the implementation of practice exercises for quick Emergency Evacuations of West Lethbridge. There are myriad other dangers to public and environmental health originating in the many hundreds of toxic chemicals, including naphthalene, formaldehyde, mercury, cadmium, ethylene glycol, acetaldehyde, and triethanolamine zirconate that will be pressure pumped into the earth upstream from the intake pipe of our Lethbridge Water Treatment Plant. The menace to the quality of our community’s water supplies, already an overtaxed resource in our arid part of the province, will be matched by the flaring, burning and venting of toxic substances in the vicinity of our campus, neighbouring schools, and residential districts where many U of L faculty, staff , students and their family members live.

Fracking, but especially Urban Fracking, has become the subject of increasing opposition by those millions of people whose health and wellbeing is negatively impacted by this industrial activity. Many countries, including France, Germany, South Africa, and the Netherlands, have banned this activity altogether. The petro-province of Newfoundland has said “no” to fracking. Fracking has been prohibited in Dallas Texas and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The enactment in Pittsburgh that outlawed fracking referred to the likelihood that corporations as well as municipal, state, and national governments will be sued for the “chemicals and chemical compounds found to be trespassing into the bodies of the residents of the city or into the ecosystems within Pittsburgh.”

Some are already asking serious questions about issues of liability and due diligence that arise from the prospect of Urban Fracking in Lethbridge. For instance, are those most directly responsible for the governance of the University of Lethbridge doing due diligence in critically evaluating the Goldenkey company’s Penny Project whose full scope and extent remain unclear. Any full assessment of the health and environmental outcomes of the Penny Project would have to take into account Goldenkey’s plans for drilling and fracking throughout the larger Lethbridge area. If the project were to go ahead, would the University administration be required to take on new types of insurance to protect against the new host of threats to students, staff, and faculty arising from the failure to stop the “frack attack” on West Lethbridge?

If West Lethbridge were to be transformed into an industrial danger zone, how would this change affect our school’s future recruitment of students and faculty? What would be the consequences for the University if University Drive were to become a major thoroughfare for the conveyance of large quantities of known toxins and highly flammable products? How would the influx of transitory work crews affect public order in our neighbourhoods?

Wouldn’t the negative impacts of urban fracking in West Lethbridge detract from the idealistic imagery of the University of Lethbridge as Alberta’s Destination University? Shouldn’t the University become proactive to maintain the conditions of personal and community health and security that have helped make our school a magnet for students? Shouldn’t the same conditions be maintained that attracted faculty members to come here in the first place; to establish family homes in the area and contribute to the growth of the U of L’s academic reputation?

So far the volunteers of No Drilling Lethbridge campaign have collected the signatures of eight thousand citizens who publicly oppose Goldenkey’s plan to conduct Urban Fracking and drilling. Many of those who have signed the petition are U of L students, staff, and faculty. This upsurge of opposition took place as news emerged that Goldenkey holds mineral rights to almost 10 square miles of West Lethbridge including Paradise Canyon, the Canyon, Riverstone, Sunridge, Mountain Heights, Copperwood and part of Varsity Village. It has been reported that mineral rights were sold out from underneath four thousand homes as well as the University of Lethbridge’s campus without prior notice or consultation.

We believe that it is entirely fitting that educational institutions, which bear a kind of fiduciary responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their students, are playing leading roles in opposing Urban Fracking in West Lethbridge. Why don’t the governors of the largest and most senior educational institution in West Lethbridge follow the lead of the Trustees of Lethbridge School District #51 and the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division? As time passes U of L’s corporate silence on the nearby Urban Fracking is looking more and more like a position of compliance.

Will the University of Lethbridge exercise its Corporate power to intervene? Will the University of Lethbridge oppose the Goldenkey Oil company’s plan to sink “exploratory wells” on municipal lands near our educational institution? What is the University of Lethbridge’s official position on the Goldenkey plan to drill and frack in West Lethbridge?

As faculty members with diverse areas of professional expertise we invite the Board of Governors to work with us in arriving at an informed decision on these matters of such vital importance to the future of the University of Lethbridge.
Yours Respectfully,

CC: Dr. Mike Mahon, President and Vice-Chancellor
Dr. Andrew Hakin, Provost and Vice-President Academic


1. Shamsul Alam, Professor of Finance, Faculty of Management

2. Kamar Ali, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

3. Robert Benkoczi, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science

4. Glenda Bonifacio, Associate Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies

5. Bryson Brown, Professor, Department of Philosophy

6. James Byrne, Professor, Department of Geography

7. Adam Carter, Associate Professor, Department of English

8. Yllias Chali, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

9. Jeff Davidson, Academic Assistant, Department of Economics

10. Sameer Deshpande, Associate Professor of Marketing, Faculty of Management

11. Wendy Faith, Instructor, Department of English

12. Jo-Anne Fiske, Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies

13. Margaret Forgie, Instructor, Department of Psychology

14. Elizabeth Galway, Associate Professor, Department of English

15. Jay Gamble, Instructor, Department of English

16. Inge Genee, Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages

17. Beth Gerwin, Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages

18. Pascal Ghazalian, Associate Professor, Department of Economics

19. Andrea Glover, Professional Librarian

20. Esteban Gomez-Riviere, Instructor, First Nations Transitions Program

21. Rumi Graham, Professional Librarian

22. Anthony Hall, Professor of Globalization Studies

23. John Harding, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies

24. Trevor Harrison, Professor, Department of Sociology

25. Jean Harrowing, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences

26. Chris Hopkinson, Associate Professor, Department of Geography

27. Leona Jacobs. Professional Librarian

28. Habiba Kadiri, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

29. Atif Khalil, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies

30. Hadi Kharaghani, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

31. Suzanne Lenon, Assistant Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies

32. James Linville, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies

33. Stavroula Malla, Associate Professor, Department of Economics

34. Ian McAdam, Professor, Department of English

35. Susan McDaniel, Professor, Department of Sociology, and Director, Prentice Institute & Prentice Research Chair in Global Population & Economy

36. Kevin McGeough, Associate Professor, Department of Geography

37. Abigail McMeekin, Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages

38. Dave Morris, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

39. Joy Morris, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

40. Richard Mueller, Associate Professor, Department of Economics

41. Chris Nicol, Professor, Department of Economics, and University Librarian

42. Daniel O’Donnell, Professor, Department of English

43. Luz Janeth Ospina, Instructor, Department of Modern Languages

44. Kent Peacock, Professor, Department of Philosophy

45. Michael Perry, Professional Librarian

46. William Ramp, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

47. Tom Robinson, Professor, Department of Religious Studies

48. Duane Rockerbie, Associate Professor, Department of Economics

49. Victor Rodych, Professor, Department of Philosophy

50. Hillary Rodrigues, Professor, Department of Religious Studies

51. Elizabeth Schultz, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

52. David Siminovitch, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

53. Barry Stannard, Instructor of Information Systems, Faculty of Management

54. Stefanie Stiles, Academic Assistant, Academic Writing Program

55. Michael Stingl, Professor, Department of Philosophy

56. Robert Sutherland, Professor, Department of Neuroscience

57. Kien Tran, Associate Professor, Department of Economics

58. Raquel Trillia, Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages

59. John Vokey, Professor, Department of Psychology

60. Mark Walton, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

61. Stacey Wetmore, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

62. Carol Williams, Associate Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies

2014 02 20 Faculty Group against Fracking in Lethbridge

2014 02 20 Frack U

[Refer also to:

Should University of Lethbridge take a stand on urban drilling and fracing issue? 119 from the university community signing it should be opposed

University of Lethbridge confirms 2013 Honorary Degree Recipients: Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice and former Lethbridge resident Neil Wittmann a recipient

2013 03 05 University of Lethbridge gives Justice Neil Wittmann honourary degree

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