Don’t frack with our water, say majority of Canadians in new poll

Media Release
February 6, 2012

Ottawa – The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking, is facing mounting opposition across the country. A new Environics Research poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians has found that 62% of Canadians support “a moratorium on all fracking for natural gas until all the federal environmental reviews are complete”.

“Communities across Canada are saying ‘no’ to fracking projects. It’s time for the federal government to listen and ban the practice,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson, Council of Canadians. “At the very least there needs to be a moratorium to provide time for a federal review the serious consequences of fracking.”

Fracking is a contentious method of extracting unconventional natural gas, primarily shale gas. The technique involves the injection of millions of litres of water and thousands of litres of unidentified chemicals underground at very high pressure in order to create fractures in the underlying rock formations to extract the trapped gas.

“The Council of Canadians opposes fracking because of its high water use, its high greenhouse gas emissions, its impacts on human health, the disruption it causes to wildlife, and the danger it poses to groundwater and local drinking water,” says Emma Lui, water campaigner, Council of Canadians. “The recent announcement of voluntary ‘guiding principles’ confirms the fracking industry is worried about the growing opposition. But these voluntary guidelines set by industry are classic greenwashing.”

There is currently no federal legislation on fracking. Regulations on water and drilling permits vary from province to province. Oil and gas wells are exempt from the National Pollutant Release Inventory. Environment Canada reviewed chemicals used in the process in Quebec and the US and found that approximately half did not meet the Chemicals Management Plan criteria for further investigation.

Federal Cabinet ministers have been briefed by departmental officials on the dangers of fracking and federal studies on the practice are expected to be completed within 2 years. The lack of strict, consistent regulation on fracking adds to the pressing need for a moratorium until federal reviews are complete.

Fracking for unconventional gas is rapidly expanding in almost every province across Canada. In addition to making local water flammable due to methane pollution, there have been numerous occasions of earthquakes near fracking sites. Fracking wastewater at numerous sites in the US is too radioactive for water treatment plants to cope with safely. 90% of fracking worldwide takes place in North America.

Council of Canadians members and chapter activists have been at the forefront of local campaigns to stop this dangerous industry and protect their water from toxic chemical and methane contamination resulting from the fracking process. Also announced today, the Council has launched the Fracker Tracker, a web-map that will help track fracking threats across the country. The Council of Canadians is urging people from coast to coast to sign the petition to stop fracking at www.canadians.org/fracking.

The Environics Research survey was conducted by telephone among a national random sample of 2,000 adults comprising 1000 males and 1000 females 18 years of age and older, living in Canada. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 2.19%, 19 times out of 20. Interviewing for this Environics National Telephone Omnibus Survey was completed during the period: January 5 - 15, 2012. Read poll backgrounder.

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