NDP wants gas drilling rules tightened

NDP critics want to tighten the rules and take a close look at the environmental effects of the newest form of deep drilling.

NDP environment critic Rob Fleming and energy critic John Horgan want an independent scientific review of B.C.'s shale gas industry.

VICTORIA – With shale gas booming and work beginning for pipelines and export facilities in northern B.C., the NDP wants to tighten the rules and take a closer look at the environmental effects of the newest form of deep drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” injects large amounts of water and chemicals deep underground to crack shale layers and release trapped gas. Much of that contaminated water comes back up with the gas, where it must be collected and treated.

NDP energy critic John Horgan and environment critic Rob Fleming are calling for an end to short-term water permits issued by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and the formation of an scientific panel to examine the cumulative effects of widespread drilling and fracking.

“I think the notion that water’s free, that water is there for their use unreservedly is past, and the time for a scientific assessment of the impacts of the industry has arrived,” Horgan said.

They also want a review of the carbon dioxide emissions from shale gas development, and the effect on B.C.’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The B.C. Liberal government has promised a health and safety study of effects of the booming gas industry on air and groundwater, to begin by the end of the year.

“Because water is the major concern at this point in time with hydraulic fracturing and the unconventional natural gas sector, we’re looking at changing the way B.C. currently does business, closing some loopholes, or temporary practices that have become a standard way of doing business,” Fleming said.

Horgan said the NDP is not calling for a halt to the sale of drilling rights or a moratorium on development. The scientific panel should hold public hearings in northeastern B.C. to hear from residents affected by drilling, water treatment ponds and pipelines on farmland.

Shale layers in northeastern B.C. are three kilometres or more underground. Horgan said he does not believe these deep layers represent a threat to groundwater, as with shallow coalbed methane deposits that can contaminate well water and make it flammable.

He said the B.C. government should continue to fund a farmers’ advocacy group in the Peace region, and have all water permits issued by the natural resources ministry.

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

UPDATED: Almost 1,200 people allowed to return home in Kootenay-Boundary as floods dry up

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Most Read