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NEWS: Federal review of fracking may not be completed until April 2013

As we have previously noted, the Harper government has launched two separate reviews on the controversial energy extraction process known as fracking, according to the Calgary Herald and other media reports.

1. “(Environment minister Peter) Kent has asked the Council of Canadian Academies — a not-for-profit agency that conducts science-based studies — for an independent, expert-panel assessment ‘of the state of scientific knowledge on potential environmental impacts from the development of Canada’s shale gas resources’.”

2. “He has also ordered department officials to develop an internal work plan to examine any potential environmental consequences of shale gas development, according to his parliamentary secretary, Michelle Rempel, a Calgary MP.”

Timelines? It is not clear at this point when the internal work plan by department officials will be completed. “The Council of Canadian Academies is awaiting a formal written request from the environment minister, but assumes an expert assessment could take up to 18 months and include a panel of 12 to 15 experts from a variety of fields, said spokeswoman Cate Meechan.” An 18-month timeline would mean the panel’s assessment could be concluded by April 2013.

Both the environment minister and the natural resources minister have already been warned by their departments that fracking involves excessive water use, the risk of groundwater contamination, greater greenhouse gas emissions, increased truck traffic, and extensive habitat fragmentation for wildlife, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=11437. The question is — Will the federal government fulfill its responsibilities to regulate air emissions, the Canada Water Act, the Species at Risk Act, and the Fisheries Act between now and the completion of these reports on fracking?

The Calgary Herald has reported, “NDP environment critic Megan Leslie cited fears the government is using reviews as a ‘stalling tactic’ to delay any substantial regulations on development. ‘I find it hard to believe that Environment Canada and that the government doesn’t already know a lot of the information,’ Leslie said.”

At is annual general meeting this past weekend, a resolution was passed stating, “the Council of Canadians will pressure the provincial and federal governments to implement an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in Canada.” For more on our campaign against fracking, please see http://canadians.org/fracking.