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WIN! Nova Scotia prohibits fracking

Keep Nova Scotia Frack FreeThe Council of Canadians is celebrating the decision to prohibit fracking in Nova Scotia.

Energy minister Andrew Younger announced yesterday that Premier Stephen McNeil’s Liberal government will introduce legislation this fall to prohibit high-volume fracking for onshore shale gas in the province. The decision comes just a week after an independent review panel recommended that fracking should not be allowed until more research is done on its environmental and health impacts.

Younger said, “Nova Scotians have overwhelmingly expressed concern about allowing high-volume hydraulic fracturing to be a part of onshore shale development in this province at this time.”

He also noted, “This is neither a permanent nor a time-limited ban. Instead, our government recognizes that the availability and understanding of the science of hydraulic fracturing in shale will evolve one way or the other. Our decision will allow the Nova Scotia legislature to have an opportunity for debate and comment should a decision to allow hydraulic fracturing in shale formations be allowed in our province at some future date.”

While we had called for a permanent ban or at least a ten year moratorium, we are pleased by the implied longer-term aspect of this prohibition on fracking. Younger told CBC News, “There’s nothing that’s going to happen in five years or 10 years that we can point to. …People need to not have this threat hanging over their head that there might be hydraulic fracturing and they wouldn’t be involved. This way, people will know before it’s allowed — if it’s ever allowed — there will be a full debate in the Legislature.”

The Chronicle-Herald reports, “The Council of Canadians, which would prefer an outright ban on fracking, was pleased with Younger’s announcement. ‘Residents showed up to the public town hall meetings in huge numbers to show their opposition to fracking’, said Angela Giles, the council’s Atlantic regional organizer. ‘It’s great that governments are actually listening to people.'”

As noted above, Younger highlighted in his announcement that Nova Scotians “overwhelmingly” expressed their opposition to fracking. A poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians, the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition and the Sierra Club last fall found that 69 per cent of Nova Scotians strongly support or support a continued moratorium on fracking, unless an independent review finds there is no risk to drinking water, human health, the climate or communities. The Council of Canadians also encouraged members of the public through our action alert Let’s keep Nova Scotia frack-free to make written submissions to the independent review panel whose recommendations were clearly critical to Younger’s decision.

This June we wrote a letter to Premier McNeil urging him to place a ban on fracking in Nova Scotia given the host of grave concerns raised in the Council of Canadian Academies report. And in July we said that the moratorium on fracking must remain in place until the Mi’kmaq community consents to a change. We had also called on our supporters and the public to show their opposition to fracking by requesting a meeting with their MLA as well as posting signs, banners or stickers on their houses and cars.

The Nova Scotia legislature will reconvene on September 25 and we will carefully study the fracking legislation when it is put forward around that time.