Last night, the Niagara-on-the-Lake town council unanimously passed a resolution calling for a province and nation-wide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and on the treatment of the wastewater by-products of hydraulic fracturing within the Great Lakes Basin. The resolution calls for a dialogue between US, Canadian, and Indigenous governments on the “full consideration of the human and environmental impacts” of fracking and treating fracking wastewater in the Great Lakes.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a process to extract natural gas from shale rock formations. Sand, water and chemicals are injected into the ground at extremely high pressures to fracture shale deposits releasing natural gas. The method, which has been opposed by communities throughout North America, is extremely water intensive using approximately 2 million to 9 million gallons of water per ‘fracking’ job. Despite using carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, companies are not legally required to publicly state which toxic chemicals they use in the fracking process.
The resolution, introduced by Councillor Jamie King, was sparked by concern about the New York Niagara Falls Water Board’s move to explore treating fracking wastewater in their wastewater treatment system. On September 16 media reports had indicated the Niagara Falls Water Board was considering plans to treat ‘fracking fluid’ at the municipal wastewater treatment plant.
The resolution recognizes the Great Lakes as “as a shared commons and public trust and as such requires public consultation and a process that enables communities to be a part of the decision-making process on issues that affect the Great Lakes Basin as a whole.” It also notes the UN recognition on the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation and "as such contamination of drinking water by fracking fluids is a violation of this and other human rights.”
“We applaud Niagara-on-the-Lake’s move to press federal and provincial governments for action,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, “Fracking is a serious threat to Canada’s water sources and people’s drinking water. Based on several UN resolutions, the federal government is obligated by international law to adopt a national water policy that recognizes water as a human right and implements a regulatory framework to address violations of the human right to water and sanitation.”
“We are thrilled Niagara-on-the-Lake has taken leadership in protecting the Great Lakes Commons from fracking,” says Emma Lui, Water Campaigner of the Council of Canadians, “We hope this resolution inspires other communities around the Great Lakes to pass resolutions banning fracking and fosters collective decision-making with all levels of government including First Nations and Native American governments.”
The Niagara-on-the-Lake town council will circulate this resolution to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario for support by Ontario municipalities as well as the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.