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Nova Scotia municipalities add momentum to push for fracking moratorium

The Council of Canadians and Ecology Action Centre are applauding the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities’ (UNSM) resolution supporting a province-wide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. The resolution from the coalition of 54 municipalities calls for dialogue between First Nations, federal, provincial and municipal governments on the impacts of fracking.

“The calls for a stop to fracking from Atlantic Canada are growing louder and louder by the day, with Newfoundland and Labrador’s temporary ban on fracking announced just days ago,” says Angela Giles, Atlantic regional organizer for the Council of Canadians. “We are pleased to see that the UNSM resolution highlights the problem of fracking wastewater in Nova Scotia. With a new Liberal government in Nova Scotia and an independent review underway, it was important for municipalities to add their voices to a call for a moratorium.”

Municipalities have been actively opposing fracking in Nova Scotia in a number of different ways. On October 22, Windsor’s town council unanimously accepted a committee recommendation urging the provincial government commit to refusing to process fracking wastewater until “there is an extensive public consultation and full consideration given by the Department of Environment, Province of Nova Scotia protocols and procedures to address fracking water and the eventual disposal of this by-product through wastewater treatment plant facilities.”

Earlier this year Colchester County stopped a plan to dump 4.5 million litres of fracking wastewater into the Chiganois River, which would have also impacted communities along Cobequid Bay and the Bay of Fundy. Inverness County has also passed a ground-breaking by-law that bans fracking based on the human rights to clean air and clean water.

When the Municipality of West Hants passed its resolution against fracking on to the UNSM in the spring, “they made a clear and strong statement that the other municipalities were proud to stand behind during the annual UNSM meeting yesterday,” stated Jennifer West, Geoscience Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, and Chair of the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition (NOFRAC).

“This is another reason why we need a federal ban on fracking. The resolution rightly recognizes cases of water contamination. So often industry and governments claim that there are no cases of water contamination, which is outright false,” says Emma Lui, national water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “It also recognizes water as a shared commons, a public trust and a human right. Watersheds must be shared, protected and carefully managed by all who live around them. Water belongs to communities and governments have an obligation to protect water in the public’s interest, which means banning fracking.”

All governments, including the Nova Scotia government, have an obligation to uphold the human right to water and sanitation. Fracking poses serious threats to communities’ drinking water. The UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, made the link between fracking and its relationship to the human right to water during her visit to the United States in 2011. De Albuquerque’s report from her U.S. visit has recommended that countries need to take “a holistic consideration of the right to water” when developing energy production activities.