People attending a public session in Yarmouth on hydraulic fracturing said they are against any development of this kind, given the damage they fear it would do to the environment.
The July 24 session was one in a series of meetings taking place across the province as part of an independent review of hydraulic fracturing.
Hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking,” as critics call it – is a technique used to free natural gas trapped in shale rock formations.
Southwestern Nova Scotia is not considered an area where this type of activity would occur – the target areas would be in more central and northern parts of the province – but most of those attending the Yarmouth session said they are opposed to it.
The panel conducting the review is getting ready to present a report to Nova Scotia’s energy department. It likely will be ready by mid-August or so, said David Wheeler, who is heading the review and who was in Yarmouth to facilitate the session here.
A “significant majority” of the submissions the panel has received have been against hydraulic fracturing, he said.
“One of our principal recommendations is that we’re looking for a period of calm, a period of reflection, of learning, hopefully based on the contents of our report,” he said after the Yarmouth meeting.
Aside from expressing their opposition to hydraulic fracturing out of concern for what it could do to the environment, some of those attending the Yarmouth session said they are skeptical about the review process and about what the government ultimately might decide to do on this issue.
Wheeler, however, said it would be “unthinkable” for a provincial government to “crash through a topic like this, a technology like this, against the will of the people. So we are saying that if it (hydraulic fracturing) ever did happen, there should be a range of things in place, but the most important thing would be community consent.”
David Wheeler (right), chair of the province's independent review of hydraulic fracturing, speaks at July 24 public session in Yarmouth.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO