NDP wants gas drilling rules tightened

NDP critics want to tighten the rules and take a close look at the environmental effects of the newest form of deep drilling.

NDP environment critic Rob Fleming and energy critic John Horgan want an independent scientific review of B.C.'s shale gas industry.

VICTORIA – With shale gas booming and work beginning for pipelines and export facilities in northern B.C., the NDP wants to tighten the rules and take a closer look at the environmental effects of the newest form of deep drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” injects large amounts of water and chemicals deep underground to crack shale layers and release trapped gas. Much of that contaminated water comes back up with the gas, where it must be collected and treated.

NDP energy critic John Horgan and environment critic Rob Fleming are calling for an end to short-term water permits issued by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and the formation of an scientific panel to examine the cumulative effects of widespread drilling and fracking.

“I think the notion that water’s free, that water is there for their use unreservedly is past, and the time for a scientific assessment of the impacts of the industry has arrived,” Horgan said.

They also want a review of the carbon dioxide emissions from shale gas development, and the effect on B.C.’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The B.C. Liberal government has promised a health and safety study of effects of the booming gas industry on air and groundwater, to begin by the end of the year.

“Because water is the major concern at this point in time with hydraulic fracturing and the unconventional natural gas sector, we’re looking at changing the way B.C. currently does business, closing some loopholes, or temporary practices that have become a standard way of doing business,” Fleming said.

Horgan said the NDP is not calling for a halt to the sale of drilling rights or a moratorium on development. The scientific panel should hold public hearings in northeastern B.C. to hear from residents affected by drilling, water treatment ponds and pipelines on farmland.

Shale layers in northeastern B.C. are three kilometres or more underground. Horgan said he does not believe these deep layers represent a threat to groundwater, as with shallow coalbed methane deposits that can contaminate well water and make it flammable.

He said the B.C. government should continue to fund a farmers’ advocacy group in the Peace region, and have all water permits issued by the natural resources ministry.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

“How many more years is this going to continue?”: Kitimat resident wants better District response to front yard sinkholes

The sinkholes are caused by an aging storm sewer, which the District says they are working to fix.

In Our Valley: Louise Barbetti

Louise Barbetti has spent her life dedicated to the welfare of the Haisla students and community.

Rio Tinto Kemano T2 project restart plans in the works after temporary COVID-19 shutdown

The project excavation work has been shut down since late March for COVID-19 safety.

REVIEW: Catchpole’s writing style makes engineering more understandable for non-engineers

“A Story of the Engineering of the Kemano-Kitimat Transmission Line” is a fun and intelligent read.

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Anonymous letters tell Vancouver Island family their kids are too loud

Letter said the noise of kids playing in Parksville backyard is ‘unbearable’

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Most Read