University of Prince Edward Island professor Kevin Arsenault writes in The Guardian, “At the Environmental Leader’s Forum held during the last provincial election, the moderator asked each leader whether he would ban shale-gas fracking if elected premier. All leaders indicated they would, except Wade MacLauchlan, who suggested that, ‘A moratorium may come through the Water Act process.'”
Arsenault notes, “In legislation, the word ‘shall’ indicates something must happen: the word ‘may’ signifies only that something might happen; and unfortunately, ‘may’ often indicates that something is not likely to happen … especially when most people believe it should happen. There are 24 occurrences of the phrase ‘the Minister may’ in the 38-page draft Water Act, which is a huge problem. And unfortunately, the Act doesn’t say that there ‘shall’ or even ‘may’ be a moratorium on fracking: in fact, the word fracking is not mentioned.”
He adds, “The omission of any mention of fracking will certainly come as a major disappointment to the lobby group Don’t Frack PEI”
The Council of Canadians helped form Don’t Frack PEI in January 2013. At that time, Charlottetown-based Council of Canadians vice-chairperson Leo Broderick stated, “We would like to form a province-wide, broad-based, diverse PEI anti-fracking coalition, where we would put pressure on the provincial government to declare there be an absolutely permanent moratorium on fracking and oil drilling in the province.”
Arsenault concludes, “The Water Act must oblige the minister to impose a moratorium. There are simply no conditions, circumstances or scenarios where fracking for shale gas should ever be permitted in PEI. The eventual likelihood of a catastrophic event demands that the political discretion to permit fracking does not exist in law.”
Broderick says, “This is an excellent op ed. We need a ban on fracking specifically stated as such in the Water Act.” To read the op-ed, please click here.
In October 2015, Broderick presented to the PEI Environmental Advisory Committee as it gathered input for this draft Act, which was released on March 16 of this year. The Guardian has reported, “The provincial government is inviting Islanders to comment on the first draft of its proposed Water Act. A second round [of consultations will begin on] March 30. Public feedback can be provided online or at public consultation sessions across the Island [including in Charlottetown on April 10].”
Broderick and The Council of Canadians will continue to evaluate and provide commentary and input on the draft Water Act.