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NEWS: Harper government has power to stop fracking in Canada

CBC reports, “Canada’s environment minister (Peter Kent) says he has the power to stop hydro-fracking in New Brunswick (and by extension the country), but it’s unclear if he will intervene.”

“(While) the exploitation of natural resources is not actually regulated by Ottawa, the federal government could step in and restrict the practice if the review by Council of Canadian Academies finds certain environmental ‘triggers’, such as the chemicals involved posing a threat to waterways with fish, said Kent. ‘If there is a need for a certain sort of action, we certainly under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act have that authority and wouldn’t hesitate’ he said. …’If we were to find that there was significant broad environmental risk, then we would have to consider ways of acting to limit or control it,’ he said.”

Beyond its power under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, it has also been reported that the federal government has the authority to take action and address fracking given its responsibilities to regulate air emissions, and under the Canada Water Act, the Species at Risk Act, and the Fisheries Act.

There is already ample evidence for concern and sufficient grounds for the federal government to call for a moratorium on fracking. In fact, in the spring of 2010 then-Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis was briefed on the dangers of fracking by ministry bureaucrats. In March 2011, Environment minister Peter Kent was briefed by his deputy minister that millions of litres of water and hundreds of thousands of litres of unidentified chemicals are used in fracking. More on both of those instances at

But, according to the CBC report, “it’s too early to speculate what the (Council of Canadian Academies) review, started in September, will conclude, Kent said.” And Kent tried to step back from his legislative responsibilities by “reiterating that the actual exploitation of natural resources is not regulated by the federal government.”

The Council of Canadians will be launching a petition campaign in the near future to put pressure on the federal government to step into a leadership role and ensure that our water sources, people’s health and the environment are protected from unnecessary and dangerous pollution.