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NEWS: Fracking accelerates as public outrage grows

The CBC reports that, “The companies involved in Quebec’s controversial move into shale gas exploration met with stiff opposition from local residents at a public meeting in Bécancour, east of Trois-Rivières, Tuesday night. There was standing room only as about 200 people living near exploration sites crammed into a hotel conference room to voice their concerns and fears about shale gas. …Tuesday’s meeting, organized by the Quebec Oil and Gas Association, was dominated by calls from the public for a moratorium on shale gas exploration until more scientific studies are done to assess the environmental impacts. …The oil and gas association will host two more public meetings, one on Sept. 21 in Saint-Édouard-de-Lotbinière, east of Bécancour, and the second on Sept. 28 in Saint-Hyacinthe, southeast of Montreal.”

The CBC adds, “The provincial government has ordered its environmental protection agency — known as the BAPE — to review the practice and to hand in a report to government officials by February 2011. Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau has also said there will be no large-scale shale gas projects before 2014, when strict regulations will be in place.” But the Globe and Mail reports today that, “Six former members of the province’s environmental assessment board say that the board has ‘neither the time nor the necessary resources’ to hold proper hearings and undertake independent studies that respond to the public’s concerns about the development of natural gas. …The board announced on Thursday that public hearings will begin next month and go until November. However, the board has no proper independent studies to present for debate, and it must make its recommendations in four months. A project this size usually takes at least 12 to 18 months, environmentalists say.”

Meanwhile, the Montreal Gazette reports that, “Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. (Gary Doer) said Friday (at a Global Business Forum in Banff) the growing shale-gas industry south of the border will start gaining prominence on the U.S. agenda, regardless of outcomes in this fall midterm elections. ‘We’re going to be dealing with a lot more, I think bipartisan support, to move ahead quickly in the United States on shale gas,’ (he said). ‘Get your running shoes on… in terms of what that means for opportunities for all of us.'”

In early September, the Canadian Press reported that, “The Conservative government has been warned that drilling for shale gas could boost carbon-dioxide emissions, encroach on wildlife habitat and sap freshwater resources. …The risks are outlined in briefing notes prepared last spring for Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis. (The briefing notes) warn the process of releasing natural gas from shale — called hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ — could draw heavily on freshwater resources and significantly increase Canada’s overall carbon-dioxide emissions. The documents also say projects in areas without infrastructure may require the construction of roads, drill pads and pipelines, which could create ‘extensive habitat fragmentation’ for wildlife.”

The Council of Canadians has filed an Access to Information request for these briefing notes.

To read campaign blogs on fracking please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?s=fracking.

The CBC report is at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/09/15/industry-holds-shale-meeting.html#ixzz0zsqAyIT8. The Montreal Gazette article is at http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Shale+gain+prominence+Doer+says/3541747/story.html#ixzz0zssOwmED.