Who do Caleb Behn and Council of Canadians represent? One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Call for Federal Fracking Regulation Flies in the Face of Call for a Ban

*Added to BC Tapwater Alliance Press Release:

Note: sometime during the evening of June 3, 2015, the wording in the May 13, 2015 linked blog was changed to the following: “showed that decision makers do not know enough about fracking to declare it safe.” As of 7:30 am, June 4, 2015, there nevertheless remain at least two posts with the original wording, including the popular Rabble. Nowhere did the Council of Canadians admit the ‘error’ and subsequent correction. The error was pointed out 20 days previous on Rabble.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Call for Federal Fracking Regulation Flies in the Face of Call for a Ban Press Release by BC Tap Water Alliance, June 1, 2015

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back:

Call for Federal Fracking Regulation Flies in the Face of Call for a Ban

Vancouver: The Council of Canadians made a puzzling announcement in a May 12, 2015 media release, stating that it was supporting a formal request for the Canadian Government to regulate fracking.

The Council, with numerous Canadian chapters, had taken the position of being opposed to fracking (“hydraulic fracturing”) due to resulting below and above-ground environmental harms. The Council’s December 2013 document, The Fracktivist’s Toolkit, purports to “stop fracking.” It’s website states: “we are calling for a country-wide halt on fracking operations, and work with people in communities across Canada who are saying ‘No Fracking Way!’;” and declares that “protecting the right to clean drinking water means banning fracking.” On October 11, 2014, the Council participated in “Global Frackdown,” an “international day of action where hundreds of communities around the world call for a ban on fracking.”

In media releases posted on its website since October 2014, the Council had opposed operational fracking, opposed proposed fracking, and supported fracking moratoriums in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island (earlier postings included Saskatchewan and Quebec). On October 8, 2014, the Council announced the results of a national poll, whereby “70%” of Canadians support “a national moratorium on fracking until it is scientifically proven to be safe.”

In a May 13, 2015 blog, the Council’s National Water Campaigner revealed the basis for the Council’s justification for its sudden support of federal frack regulation. It incorrectly summarized that the Council of Canadian Academies’ May 2014 national report on fracking, commissioned by Environment Canada, “showed that decision makers do know enough about fracking to declare it safe.”

The B.C. Tap Water Alliance reported in a March 10, 2015 media release, Did the Council of Canadian Academies’ Frack Panel ‘Cherry-Pick’ the Scientific Evidence on Harms from Fracking?, that the Council of Canadian Academies failed to conduct a thorough review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature on fracking, putting into question both the findings and political motives of the Panel’s final report. The Alliance’s media release included a link to a document it created, listing, in chronological order, about 400 peer-reviewed papers on the harms from fracking found on the Physicians, Scientists & Engineers’ Healthy Energy website.

Anthony Ingraffea, the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, summarized the significance of the 400 or so “peer reviewed papers on the health and environmental impacts” from fracking published since 2008. He states that the “vast majority show a clear and present danger,” demonstrating that “many problems are unfixable by regulations of any kind.” Since March 3, 2015, the number of peer-reviewed papers on PSE’s Health Energy website has increased to almost 500.

“Has the Council of Canadians crossed a dangerous line? Justification for federal frack regulation has no basis and contradicts its stated aims to ban fracking. If the Council fails to change its position, it will betray the trust it has so far earned from Canadians,” says Will Koop, B.C. Tap Water Alliance Coordinator. “The increasing research and testimonial evidence from those who have been harmed by fracking show that one cannot advocate frack regulation and be opposed to fracking. There is no middle ground.”


2015 06 01 BC TAP WATER ALLIANCE - Council Canadians asking Harper govt to regulate fracing flies in face of their calling for frac ban

[Refer also to:

Canadian Government Called on to Federally Regulate Fracking by Derek Leahy, May 12, 2015, desmogblog

Must Read comments to the article:

  • RuralAG • 19 days ago

    “The Council of Canadians called on the federal government Tuesday to implement regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Canada.”

    Oh brother. One minute they’re calling for a ban on frac’ing and the next minute they want regulation?

    “We are calling for a country-wide halt on fracking operations, and work with people in communities across Canada who are saying ‘No fracking way!

    … Protecting the right to clean drinking water means banning fracking”

    So which is it?

    No amount of regulation will protect communities from this industry experiment. They can’t regulate it to make it safe, so maybe the Council of Canadians should stop flip-flopping, confusing people, and spreading false hope that there’s a silver bullet called “regulation” that’s going to make industry’s contamination “palatable.”

    “Growing evidence shows that regulations are simply not capable of preventing harm. That is both because the number of wells and their attendant infrastructure keeps increasing and, more importantly, because some of fracking’s many component parts, which include the subterranean geological landscape itself, are simply not controllable.”


    “A report commissioned and released by Environment Canada last year concluded the potential threat of fracking operations on groundwater ‘cannot be assessed because of a lack of scientific data and understanding.'”

    Yeah, and what garbage. There’s ample “scientific data and understanding” on the frac’ing impacts, and not just to groundwater, but one of the authors of that Environment Canada commissioned report personally holds a frac patent. A bit of a conflict wouldn’t you say?

    In the meantime, while some of our scientists are busy misleading the public and tinkering with their patents, other scientists are taking this seriously.

    “The first is a new working paper analysis from the energy science organization, PSE Healthy Energy. Covering a wide range of outcomes—air pollution, water contamination, and public health—the PSE Healthy Energy analysis is a statistical evaluation of the approximately 400 peer-reviewed studies to date on the impacts of shale gas development. Among the key findings:

    96% of all papers published on health impacts indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

    87% of original research studies published on health outcomes indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

    95% of all original research studies on air quality indicate elevated concentrations of air pollutants.

    72% of original research studies on water quality indicate potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination.

    There is an ongoing expansion in the number of peer-reviewed publications on the impacts of shale and tight gas development: approximately 73% of all available scientific peer-reviewed papers have been published in the past 24 months, with a current average of one paper published each day.”


    “A growing body of peer-reviewed studies, accident reports, and investigative articles is now detailing specific, quantifiable evidence of harm and has revealed fundamental problems with the entire life cycle of operations associated with unconventional drilling and fracking. Industry studies as well as independent analyses indicate inherent engineering problems including uncontrolled and unpredictable fracturing, induced seismicity, and well casing and cement impairments that cannot be prevented.

    Earlier scientific predictions and anecdotal evidence are now bolstered by empirical data, confirming that the public health risks from unconventional gas and oil extraction are real, the range of adverse impacts significant, and the negative economic consequences considerable. Our examination of the peer-reviewed medical and public health literature uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health.’”


    • Werner Rhein  RuralAG • 19 days ago

      RuralAG you are so right, the continuous flip flop form the major, so called, Environmental Organisations, between regulations, moratoriums and bans has to stop.
      The so called political correctness is what has us brought to the stage where we are now. This “No Do Good” activities is exactly what the Industry and the Governments wants from the people, it keeps them occupied and thinking they would do something.
      Look at it from a bit a distance and everyone can see that it is going nowhere.
      The early people who started complaining got slapped with outrageous lawsuits and the got paid of with gag orders attached.
      The main problem is everywhere where oil and gas activities occur there was never baseline data of water, air and soil collected in a manner that would stand up in court.
      That is way the industry can say there was never any proven contamination.
      In most cases the baseline data collection is anchored in the laws and regulations but not enforced. That is where our focus should be.

      • RuralAG  Werner Rhein • 19 days ago

        “the continuous flip flop form the major, so called, Environmental Organisations, between regulations, moratoriums and bans has to stop.”

        Absolutely. I think it makes these environmental organizations look like a bunch of busy industry landmen and synergy groups running around trying to make people feel important, like they have a voice, and keep them fed at the round-table – while the frac’ers are busy out back – pounding communities to dust.

        “The main problem is everywhere where oil and gas activities occur there was never baseline data of water, air and soil collected in a manner that would stand up in court.”

        Companies have lots of baseline data, they just don’t like to share. But for landowners to get relevant baseline data on their own, the companies would have to disclose ALL of their drilling, frac’ing, acidizing, servicing, etc chemicals BEFORE any exploration took place. Pretty tough to effectively test the water, soil or air – when you don’t know everything to test for.

        But as we are learning through a multi-million dollar frac contamination lawsuit, companies are not about to disclose their chemicals, and many other things, after drilling, frac’ing and community-wide water contamination – even when legally required to do so – never mind before.

        “Lawyers representing Jessica Ernst in her landmark lawsuit challenging the regulation and practice of hydraulic fracturing in Canada have accused Encana Corporation of failing to meet its legal obligations on full disclosure of documents.

        … In his letter dated March 27, Klippenstein wrote that the company failed to disclose chemicals used in Encana’s wells; baseline testing data on water wells; and reports on hydraulic fracturing.

        Klippenstein added that documents filed before the court are disorganized, lacking in detail, and improperly titled, with many stripped of important electronic information.

        … ‘Failure to disclose records regarding the Encana Wells that are at the centre of the lawsuit:

        Failure to disclose chemicals used in the Encana wells:

        Failure to disclose records regarding baseline testing of water wells in the Rosebud Area:

        Failure to disclose investigations or records regarding investigations conducted on other water wells located near Rosebud:

        Failure to disclose reports regarding CBM and hydraulic fracturing and risks to public health and the environment:

        Failure to disclose records regarding Encana’s ‘Responsible Products Program’

        Copies of records provided by Encana to ARC and AENV as part of their investigation into potential water well contamination near Rosebud: … Encana has not disclosed most of these records.’

        … ‘Perhaps it is simply extremely low work quality standards… or disdain for an ordinary Albertan who dares to challenge the mighty Encana, or the semi-deliberate placement of an impediment to Ms. Ernst’s attempt to bring the matter before the court,’ Klippenstein wrote.

        … ‘To be frank, Encana’s disclosure was embarrassingly pathetic — it was an incomplete, disorganized, error-laden, repetitive and insulting mess that wastes everyone’s time and money, including the court’s,’ wrote Ernst in a press release.

        By law, Ernst can’t divulge what Encana filed, but she can discuss what she claims the company failed to provide for the courts.”


        Thanks to Jessica Ernst, and Andrew Nikiforuk at the Tyee, for generously sharing this information.

    • AnOilMan  RuralAG • 19 days ago

      What makes you think they’ll be able to drill at all if fracking was regulated?

      The fact is that 5% of oil wells can’t hold pressure on completion, and 50% can’t hold pressure at 20 years. Good luck reducing those pesky leaks. In fact most of what the industry does with wells is hunt for leaks. They leak they leak they leak.

      • RuralAG  AnOilMan • 19 days ago

        They’re not interested in regulating, it’s all about deregulating to accommodate a frac frenzy. They know how bad it is.

        “Bob Willard, Senior advisor at the Alberta Energy Regulator, agreed to speak about current regulations.

        David Kattenburg: ‘Why aren’t these things being monitored for in the gases that are coming out from flaring and incineration stacks?’

        Bob: ‘The long list that you’ve identified would be the responsibility for monitoring of not only the Alberta Energy Regulator, but the Environment department themselves, and I would direct you once again to ESRD for them to identify what their plans are relative to updating those guidelines.’

        David: ‘I have actually, I’ve tried valiantly I’d say, to try to get them to explain to me why they have these guidelines that say all industry MUST conform to these guidelines, and then I said: “well why does directive 60 of the Alberta Energy Regulator only establish monitoring requirements for sulfur dioxide?” and he said: “speak to the Alberta Energy Regulator.”’

        Bob: ‘Um, it is important, and this is something the Energy Regulator does lead, is capturing the metrics of the volumes of material, so we do have good metrics as to the volumetrics.’

        David: ‘But essentially nothing about the composition of those gases, other than sulfur dioxide.’

        Bob: ‘A totally accurate composition, I would certainly volunteer that, no, we do not have a totally accurate comprehensive information on the flare composition, rather, we have it for the uh volumes, but not necessarily for the compositions.'”


        And now, off-lease “odours” for everyone.

        “Alberta Energy Regulator should be Ashamed

        By Diana Daunheimer, June 24, 2014 , Mountain View Gazette

        ‘… Having read these documents in their entirety, I am not fooled by the shallow affirming statements of regulatory executives but appalled by their audacity to advertise these changes as progressively better.

        Of greatest concern is that off-lease odours are now permitted from energy sites. The previous document was clear; no off-lease odours were allowed.

        Reasonably so, NO contamination should be leaving these sites. To point out the obvious, these are not odours; cooking fish in the house causes odours. Flaring, incineration and venting create emissions containing numerous hazardous and toxic chemicals. Many of these substances are definitively known to impact health and at levels below olfactory detection.

        … Sour gas air quality dispersion guidelines have also changed exponentially.

        The previous regulations required analysis on sour gas wells over one per cent; that value is now five per cent. Five per cent equates to 50,000 ppm and H2S is fatal at 1,000 ppm.

        Byproducts of burning acid gas such as sulphur dioxide and carbon disulphide are potent respiratory and neurological toxins. To increase the dispersion modelling to such a degree demonstrates total disregard for the health and safety of communities where industry operates.

        It is impossible to reconcile how these changes are an improvement, unless you are an oil company after shale gas.'”


        Regulations are as irrelevant as Alberta’s 100% industry-funded regulators.

        As the Alberta Energy Regulator’s lead counsel will tell you; “the oil company approach” is to sidestep regulations and regulators, deal quietly and directly with the people whose lives they’ve destroyed, and settle and gag them – so there’s no public record of the contamination – and so they “get to do it again down the street.”

        “‘Okay, we damaged your water well. We’ll just set you up with potable water through a tank system forever, because, you know, we just spent a million dollars drilling this well that we made a hundred million on. And it’s costing us an extra three hundred thousand. We’re okay.’

        Solomon explained more about the industry’s attitude: ‘You know, we don’t need to litigate with you, we don’t even need to know that it was our fault. We’re just happy to pay you. And by the way by doing that you shut up, the regulators stay off our back, we get to do it again down the street. And so that’s the oil company approach on these (things).'”

        But I do agree Oilman, leaky wells have been a massive problem for decades, and the frac’ing is only expected to make it worse.

        As well, industry and regulators admit they don’t understand and can’t control their fracs. And of course there’s the issue of companies intentionally frac’ing directly into communities’ freshwater zones.


        And now we have a new trend that’s really taking off – industry’s induced earthquakes – and where they recommend shoring up their equipment against the “intense shaking” from their own frac quakes. And again, they have almost no concept of, or control over, what they are doing to the subsurface.

        “A 2012 publication of the organization recognized three years ago that hydraulic fracturing can activate faults and cause significant felt earthquakes with powerful ground motions.

        ‘From the perspective of fault activation, often this is an undesirable consequence of hydraulic stimulation if these faults provide pathways for fluid to escape formation,’ said the article. ‘Again, being able to position these faults with respect to the reservoir stimulation is of prime concern. Finally, if these events are generating ground motions large enough to be felt on surface, then there needs to be an assessment of the seismic hazard on site to answer questions about where shaking may be most intense and to what standards equipment needs to be built to withstand such motion.’

        A recent talk by Usman Ahmed, the vice president of Baker Hughes, a major fracking company, highlighted the chaotic and non-linear nature of cracking shale rocks which are already under high stress.

        Ahmed said that 70 per cent of unconventional wells in the U.S., even with fracking, do not meet their production targets; that 60 per cent of all fracture stages are ineffective; and that 73 per cent of operators say they do not know enough about the subsurface, let alone where the faults are.

        He ended his talk by asking that the industry ‘avoid faults and geohazards.’”


        “Wellbore damage may be a common side effect of [oil and gas] induced seismicity, leading to:

        – Contamination of shallow aquifers

        – Production loss along damaged well bores

        – Loss of reservoir isolation”


        And and and ….

        “Another major U.S. health study has found that the hydraulic fracking of unconventional rock formations can liberate and accelerate the release of radon, a highly carcinogenic gas.

        … The mechanism for releasing radon into the atmosphere in fracked landscapes may be similar to that caused by earthquakes … Atmospheric levels of radon will typically increase fivefold prior to an earthquake due to stress changes in rock which, in turn, opens new fractures and pathways to the surface.”


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