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NWT chapter opposes fracking in the Liard Basin

Photo: Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow with the NWT chapter in Yellowknife.

The Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter is opposed to fracking in the Liard Basin.

CBC reports, “A natural gas deposit straddling British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories could be one of the largest in the world, according to a recent assessment. …The [National Energy Board] said the Liard Basin is Canada’s second-largest known gas resource after the Montney, which straddles B.C. and Alberta, and it ranks ninth in the world. …Most of it is located in British Columbia with about 20 per cent in the N.W.T. and four per cent in Yukon.

The article adds, “The only way to get it out is by hydraulic fracturing. …In B.C., Chevron Canada and Australia’s Woodside Petroleum have teamed on a project to develop gas, mostly from the Liard Basin, and liquefy it at a terminal planned for the Kitimat, B.C., area. The partners expect to have drilled five wells in the Liard by year-end as they continue to appraise their holdings, said Ray Lord, a spokesman for the project.”

The news report then highlights, “Any development involving fracking is guaranteed to provoke opposition due to concern over the extraction method’s effects on groundwater. ‘The evidence is mounting of the peril of fracking’, said Lois Little with the N.W.T. chapter of the Council of Canadians. ‘Our water systems are connected. We are part of that landscape.'”

The NWT chapter believes that, “The Government of the Northwest Territories [should] put a moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) until a comprehensive, transparent and public review of the cumulative environmental, social and economic risks and benefits of the process is completed under Part 5.1 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, and the NWT public clearly indicates whether the risks and benefits are acceptable or not.”

Last month, the chapter wrote an open letter to members of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories calling on them to pursue a clean-energy future. That letter noted, “It has become imperative to diminish our investments in the fossil fuel industry, and redirect them toward sustainable, realistic options for energy development. …To meet [the 1.5 degrees Celsius target set in Paris], Canada must work with the rest of the world in curbing our greenhouse gas emissions.”

The lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions – that is the combined emissions associated with extraction, combustion, and methane and carbon dioxide releases – means that fracked gas can be as dirty as coal. Fracking releases large amounts of natural gas – which consists of both carbon dioxide and methane – directly into the atmosphere. In fact, fracking wells leak 40 to 60 per cent more methane than conventional natural gas wells. Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. It can trap 20 to 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.