Opinion

Guest view: No to fracking

The current B.C. liberal government of Christy Clark is having an all-out love affair with LNG (liquified natural gas). They dream of LNG royalties pouring into the provincial treasury, and jobs, jobs, and more jobs. All under the banner of "green industry". The real picture is not so pretty. Natural gas is still a fossil fuel, still causes greenhouse gas emissions, and still contributes to climate change. And getting that gas out of the ground requires extensive use of the controversial practice known as fracking.

The Counsel of Canadian Academies recently released an assessment entitled "Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada. The expert panel focused on a number of issues such as well integrity, water (ground and surface), greenhouse gas emissions, land impacts and seismic events, human health, and monitoring and research. A summary of key findings ends with this statement: "Overall, the Panel found that well-targeted science is required to ensure a better understanding of the environmental impacts of shale gas development.

Currently, data about environmental impacts are neither sufficient nor conclusive." That last phrase is worth noting - "neither sufficient nor conclusive". That means on the one hand that we can not claim with certainty that fracking is an environmental and health hazard, and on the other hand that industry can not claim that it is safe. The jury is still out.

Despite this uncertainly, the oil and gas industries have declared fracking to be safe, and with the blessing of federal and provincial governments are proceeding with full-scale wide-spread fracking in northeastern B.C. and elsewhere in Canada.

When it comes to fracking our governments have thrown caution to the wind. They are gambling our future on the hope of LNG riches. Governments at all levels should be exercising the precautionary principle. From the Canadian Environmental Law Association: "The precautionary principle denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in. This principle has been codified in several international treaties to which Canada is a signatory. Domestic law makes reference to this principle but implementation remains limited."

With respect to fracking, implementation of the precautionary principle is woefully lacking and our provincial government is profoundly negligent in it's duty to protect the people of this province. Chances are very real that future generations will condemn us for the legacy of fracking they will inherit from the Christy Clark liberals.

Don't frack our future.

Jeff Corbett

Prince Rupert and McBride, B.C.

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