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Council of Canadians calls on Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidates to ban fracking

The Council of Canadians is calling on Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidates to take a stand against fracking in the province after a new Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) report was released assessing shale gas potential in the Great Lakes area.

In an open letter to the candidates, the Council writes: “We are writing to raise with you our concern about the Ontario government’s role in promoting fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in the province and to call on you prior to the leadership convention to commit to a ban – or at the very least a moratorium and provincial environmental review – on fracking in Ontario… Fracking is a key concern for First Nations and Ontarians because of its impact on water sources, climate change and public health. We urge you to ensure that water sources are protected, climate change is curbed and public health is safeguarded by committing to banning fracking in Ontario.”

The letter raises a number of concerns including the failure of the Ontario government to open up a debate on fracking before conducting the drilling programs and releasing aerial footage to assist gas companies in exploration, how fracking chemicals could interact with existing endocrine disrupters in the Great Lakes, and the need to obtain free, prior and informed consent from First Nations under the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Drilling took place in St. Joseph, Little Current, Wiarton, Bruce County, Chatham, Port Stanley, Halton, Mount Forest, Imperial Lincoln, Pickering and Russell. The OGS report highlights certain formations of the Ordovician shales – particularly the Rouge River Member of the Blue Mountain Formation and the Collingwood Member of the Cobourg Formation – as having “the best potential for shale gas productive units.”

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” is a technique to extract natural gas from harder to access unconventional sources trapped in rock formations such as shale gas, coal bed methane and tight gas. Millions of litres of water and thousands of litres of chemicals are injected underground at very high pressure in order to create fractures in the rock allowing gas to flow up the well. There are many risks associated with fracking, including groundwater contamination from undisclosed chemicals, impacts on air quality and climate change, the lack of solutions to safely dispose of fracking wastewater and links to earthquakes.

The Council of Canadians is calling for the Great Lakes to be declared a commons, public trust and protected bioregion. Under this framework, the Council is calling for ban on fracking in the Great Lakes Basin.