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NEWS: Inverness chapter resolution on fracking prompts private meeting

Thom Oommen

Thom Oommen

A Cape Breton Post editorial notes that, “Five municipal representatives from the County of Inverness drove to Antigonish on March 4 for a private meeting on onshore drilling for oil and gas with Deputy Energy Minister Murray Coolican and three other Department of Energy officials who had come from Halifax. …The meeting was set up by the Department of Energy to provide Inverness County council representatives ‘with some information about the process (and) regulations around onshore drilling and to answer questions about the technology of hydraulic fractionation,’ said Energy spokeswoman Nancy Watson.”

“Why did the Department of Energy need a special meeting with Inverness County council? Councillors indicated that department officials seemed concerned that Inverness County council passed a resolution Feb. 14 supporting a province-wide ban on the industrial use of ‘slickwater hydraulic fracturing’.” The Inverness County chapter of the Council of Canadians was instrumental in securing that resolution, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6394.

The Cape Breton Post concludes, “Instead of holding private meetings with municipal politicians, the Department of Energy  – not to mention the Department of Environment and PetroWorth Resources (the company planning to drill in the Lake Ainslie area) – should be meeting directly with residents at a public forum such as a council meeting. …The province should spend less time taking the temperature of municipal councils and more time facing the heat on the ground.”

In the on-line comments section following this editorial, Council of Canadians Inverness County chapter activist Thom Oommen writes, “The amount of government secrecy is growing and it’s very disturbing. What was said at this meeting that couldn’t be said in front of a council meeting with the public in attendance? …Why is the government so close to PetroWorth and these other oil and gas companies? …People have legitimate concerns about fracking so close to Lake Ainslie and the (Dexter) government is just steamrolling ahead. …Obviously the municipal government does have some power if they can pass resolutions and get the province running to meet with them. Keep up the good work council! It’s nice to know that someone is listening to the people.”

To see past campaign blogs on the work of the Inverness County chapter on this issue, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?s=inverness. It should also be noted that Thom recently travelled to the South Shore and North Shore chapters in Nova Scotia to speak about fracking. He also presented on fracking at a water conference at Dalhousie University in Halifax on March 5, http://www.dalwaterweek.com/schedule.

The editorial and the on-line comment can be read at http://www.capebretonpost.com/Opinion/Editorial/2011-03-14/article-2329485/Come-over-here-and-say-that/1.