Nova Scotia to table legislation to ban high-volume fracking for onshore shale gas

The Government of Nova Scotia announced Sept. 3 that it plans to introduce legislation this fall to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale oil and gas at this time, a decision that energy minister Andrew Younger noted in an op-ed piece the next day reflects the wants of provincial citizens.

“Nova Scotians have clearly indicated they are not yet ready for the use of hydraulic fracturing in the development of shale reserves,” Younger writes. “Residents in communities across Nova Scotia will have time to consider new research and information as it comes available, without an artificial deadline.”

The minister points out that new extraction technologies are currently being developed that “will likely minimize or eliminate many risks and concerns.”

“Even before the current ban on the practice, there were no requests before the department to proceed with hydraulic fracturing,” Younger reports. “Industry has not demonstrated significant interest in our shale resources to this point, so we are not shutting down an active industry in our province. We have the benefit of time to allow issues to be addressed,” he writes.

Most shale-based wells are stimulated using high-volume slick water hydraulic fracturing that involves pushing water, sand and chemicals into rock formations to help release oil or gas, the op-ed notes. “There are numerous examples of this technique being used safely and without incident. However, there are also examples of things going wrong,” the article adds.


Shale Game

In announcing the plan to introduce legislation banning fracking, Younger says the decision follows consideration of comments submitted by many Nova Scotians over the past 10 months, as well as studies, including an independent review commissioned by the Nova Scotia government in August 2013 (the independent review considered the effects of hydraulic fracturing, including public consultations and creating a panel of experts) and the Council of Canadian Academies’ report for the federal government.

Last month, Newfoundland and Labrador announced – which currently is not accepting any applications for fracking – announced that it would move forward with an external independent review into hydraulic fracturing.

An earlier internal government analysis did not produce enough information to come to a final decision about use of the practice in the province. The external panel is to receive input from the public.

Some studies have linked man-made earthquakes to fracking and injecting wastewater deep underground, although these induced earthquakes appear to produce less shaking and the shaking is weaker.

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