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NEWS: Albertans concerned about possible fracking near aquifer

The Canadian Press reports, “A group of Alberta landowners on a pristine swath of Prairie grassland along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains fear planned seismic drilling in the area will open the door to unwelcome oil and gas activity and permanent environmental damage. The region, south of Calgary near Claresholm, is home to one of the largest remaining tracts of rough fescue grass, a refuge for many species of wildlife and a critical aquifer for southern Alberta. The upper watersheds of the eastern slopes provide water for the needs of the primarily rural economy downstream.”

“Word that a seismic company is planning to begin drilling test holes along Crown-owned road allowances in the region was met with immediate dismay. ‘The water is the concern and the damage to the grass, and fire,’ said local rancher Shauna Burton. ‘I guess the thing is once they’re in here it’s the start of things to come. They know this is the watershed. It’s no secret this is the source of the water. It starts on the eastern slopes and what has the government done to protect it? Nothing. It is like opening Pandora’s Box because once they’re in. They’re in.'”

“Burton is worried the drilling could spur future oil and gas activity in the relatively untouched region, including hydraulic fracturing, an extraction method that has attracted a great deal of controversy. The process, often called ‘fracking’ involves blasting water, sand and chemicals into shale rock formations deep underground in order to unleash oil and natural gas. The industry says it is safe but critics blame it for water contamination. ‘If they get out here fracking for coalbed methane … once the water is polluted what are you going to drink, guys? Water is life,’ Burton said.”

“LandQuest Services Ltd. has reassured residents that care will be taken. President Ron Potts said all areas of Alberta are potential sources for energy and the company has the right to search on behalf of oil and gas companies. …The Municipal District of Willow Creek had no choice but to approve the drilling, said chief administrator Cynthia Vizzutti.”

To read about the Council of Canadians campaign against fracking, please go to http://canadians.org/fracking.