British Columbia’s two independent MLAs are calling on premier Clark to publicly investigate the development of the province’s unconventional gas basins and the use of hydraulic fracturing to access this resource.
“Public policies are driving the rapid expansion of B.C.’s unconventional gas sector, particularly in shale formations in the Peace Region,” independent MLA for Delta South, Vicki Huntington said.
“It is incumbent on the government to ensure it fully understands the cumulative impacts associated with developing this resource.”
With a depressed natural gas market, B.C. is increasingly being pushed to offer more incentives to the industry in order to develop these resources.
Huntington and Simpson are urging the government to fully examine the economic, environmental and health and safety implications before further expansion is encouraged.
“The rapid expansion of this industry, and the potential for it to continue to expand with the aid of incremental government assistance, has led to serious public policy questions being raised by more and more individuals and organizations,” independent MLA for Cariboo North Bob Simpson said.
The two MLAs noted a range of public concerns including:
• Economists asking if we are developing gas resources at the wrong time in the market cycle.
• Peace residents and Northern Health calling for a public inquiry into the health and safety implications of oil and gas development.
• The amount of fresh water used in hydraulic fracturing operations and the disposal of the large amounts of toxic wastewater subsequently produced.
• The significant additional carbon emissions associated with the industry.
• Failure to address First Nations rights and title issues.
• Other jurisdictions such as Quebec and New York State taking a more precautionary approach to unconventional gas developments, while B.C. developments continue and cumulative impacts on the environment, public health and safety, water utilization and seismic activity increase.
“We believe in light of numerous concerns expressed by the public that it is time for a thorough, non-partisan review to be conducted into the widespread application of hydraulic fracturing and the accelerated development of B.C.’s unconventional gas resources, and that a Special Committee of the Legislature should be convened to conduct a comprehensive inquiry,” the two MLAs say in a letter to the Premier.
Numerous organizations, including First Nations, supported the MLAs request for a public investigation into unconventional gas development through the use of a Special Legislative Committee.