UPDATE Nova Scotia plans to prohibit fracking: Younger

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post comments@cbpost.com
Published on September 3, 2014
Energy Minister Andrew Younger.

Energy Minister Andrew Younger says Nova Scotians don't feel they know enough about hydraulic fracking and as a result, legislation will be introduced this fall to prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing in shale oil and gas projects.

In a hastily-called press conference in Halifax this afternoon, Younger said public opinion just isn't informed enough yet about the issue and for that reason, his government wants to hold off before allowing it to go ahead.

"Nova Scotians have clearly indicated they are not yet ready for the use of hydraulic fracturing in the development of shale reserves," said Younger.

"Residents in communities across Nova Scotia will have the time to consider new research and information as it comes available without an artificial deadline. At the same time, new extraction technologies are being developed which will likely minimize or eliminate many risks and concerns."

The practice of fracking includes the use of large amounts of water, sand and chemicals under pressure in a drilled well to dislodge oil and natural gas deposits, making the natural resource more accessible to oil companies.

Nova Scotia imposed a two-year moratorium on fracking in 2012 as public concern grew over the potential for high-volume fracking to contaminate groundwater and foul the air - concerns the industry says are unfounded.

Younger said his government decided to go the legislation route rather than with another moratorium so no one feels they're being pressured to agree to something that they don't feel they know enough about. 

"There's a lot of information to suggest that Nova Scotians just aren't ready for it," said Younger, adding that while he doesn't base his decisions on polls, he does want the public to be better informed on the issue. He also said there remains potiential for safe, further large-scale resource development in the province.

  "Nova Scotia is an energy leader," he said. "Our decision will not change this. Our government is actively working with the offshore industry to ensure the responsible and sustainable development of those resources in a way that ensures the primary benefit is to Nova Scotians. "

A report,  commissioned a year ago by the province and led by Cape Breton University president David Wheeler, said more study was needed to determine its health, environmental, economic and community impacts when it was released last month.