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Timing is right for a fracking ban to protect Ontario from NAFTA lawsuits, says Council of Canadians

The Council of Canadians is pointing to recent lawsuits under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as strong reasons to ban fracking in Ontario now. The Council says there is also a disconnect between what retiring premier Dalton McGuinty is telling media and what the Ontario government has been doing.

“Either McGuinty doesn’t know what’s going on in the province or he’s hiding what the Ontario Geological Survey and Ministry of Natural Resources have been doing in the last three years,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson for the Council of Canadians. “If Ontario isn’t ready to allow fracking to happen, why are they promoting shale gas development in the province?”
In 2010, the Ministry of Natural Resources released an aerial survey of shale formations in Ontario with the purpose of assisting gas companies in exploration. The Ontario Geological Survey recently released a report detailing drilling programs that took place in Southern Ontario to obtain shale gas samples. The report was part of a three year study assessing shale gas potential in the Great Lakes Basin.
“The Ontario government has been trying to attract industries to frack in Ontario before consulting First Nations and communities. At the very least, we need a full public debate and provincial review on fracking now that the government has assessed shale gas potential in the provinces,” says Emma Lui, Water Campaigner, Council of Canadians. “Once the government issues exploration permits, it becomes much more difficult to rescind these permits if they decide fracking is harmful, given trade agreements such as NAFTA. Ontario is already the target of $1.5 billion worth of NAFTA investor lawsuits – we can't risk any other lawsuits.”
Calgary-based company Lone Pine, which is incorporated in Delaware, recently announced that it plans to sue the Canadian government under Chapter 11 of NAFTA because the Quebec government cancelled permits to explore for shale gas. Windstream Energy LLC also recently filed a notice of its intent to file a claim under NAFTA because of the impact Ontario’s moratorium on offshore wind farms had on their project.