When the people of Quebec spoke out against fracking, the provincial government listened. Quebec put a moratorium1 on the controversial and dangerous method for extracting hard-to-reach natural gas until the environmental impacts could be studied.
Fracking uses enormous amounts of water and sand, mixed with toxic chemicals, which are forced into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rock or coal beds to release natural gas or oil. The process is linked to earthquakes and water pollution, which is why communities around the world are trying to stop it.
You would think the Quebec government has an obligation to protect its people and their environment. But a U.S. fracking company called Lone Pine Resources thinks otherwise.
Lone Pine, which wanted to frack for gas under the St. Lawrence River, has threatened to sue Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The company is demanding $250 million in compensation for Quebec’s moratorium, which it says violates Lone Pine’s “right” to frack!
We shouldn’t have to pay to protect ourselves and our environment. Communities, not private firms, should have the final say on fracking and other projects that threaten water sources, the environment and public health – and there should be no penalty for saying “no.”
To Tim Granger, President & Chief Executive Officer of Lone Pine Resources Inc.
We’re writing to urge you to drop Lone Pine Resources’ NAFTA challenge against Quebec’s fracking moratorium. Communities are demanding bans on fracking because case studies have shown fracking to contaminate drinking water, and because fracking can result in permanent removal and loss of large quantities of water from a watershed that feeds creeks, streams, lakes and wetlands. The injection of fracking wastewater into the ground has been linked to earthquakes. Despite industry and some governments promoting natural gas as a clean, green (remove small quotes) fuel, studies show that fracked natural gas may produce as much greenhouse gas emissions as coal.
Quebec’s moratorium on fracking is not arbitrary or without public purpose, as Lone Pine states in its Notice of Intent to sue Canada for $250 million. In fact it is necessary to protect water, a public resource, based on both short and long term impacts and effects to other uses of water, the ecosystem, conservation and the health, safety and general welfare of communities. Thus, the Quebec government responded to legitimate and wholly proper public concerns about fracking in the St. Lawrence Valley. This is a precautionary measure to protect the environment and health of Quebec, its people and water, and to take legitimate action while impacts of fracking are studied further and it is demonstrated, if possible, that no such harm will or is likely to occur. Nor is Quebec alone in its concern – countries and communities around the world are speaking out against fracking, and a moratorium is a proper and responsible measure for the province to take.
All communities, including Quebec, have a right to decide whether or not they want fracking. Companies like yours must not be allowed to abuse investor rights in treaties like NAFTA. We urge you to respect Quebec’s right and obligation under international trade law, including NAFTA, to protect its people and its sovereign right to set its own environmental and resource laws by dropping your NAFTA challenge to the fracking moratorium.
Thank you for your attention into this matter.
With support from:
More information on the Lone Pine case, fracking and investor-state dispute settlement:
- Five reasons Canada should NOT ratify a Canada-EU free trade agreement, By Stuart Trew, Troy Media, April 26, 2013
- Free Trade is Fracking with our Future, Council of Canadians factsheet, February 2013
- Don’t Frack with our Water, Council of Canadians anti-fracking campaign and Fracker Tracker
- The right to say no: EU–Canada trade agreement threatens fracking bans, May 2013 report from Corporate Europe Observatory, Council of Canadians and Transnational Institute
- Testing the Right to Frack: NAFTA investor lawsuit against shale gas moratorium adds reason to fear FIPA with China, Op-ed by Stuart Trew in The Tyee, March 28, 2013
- Profiting from Injustice: How law firms, arbitrators and financiers are fuelling an investment arbitration boom, November 2012 report from Corporate Europe Observatory and Transnational Institute
- Open letter to Stephen Harper: Fourteen reasons the Canada-China FIPA needs a full public review, By Gus Van Harten, Osgoode Hall Law School, October 18, 2012
- Mining for Profits in International Tribunals: Corporate lawsuits against governments over resource rights continue to increase, Report by the Institute for Policy Studies, May 2013