Earlier this week, Burnaby city council passed a resolution to call for a moratorium on fracking. The city itself is not threatened by hydraulic fracturing; however, it has "from time to time advocated on environmental matters which have provincial or national significance." This is the first city in B.C. to pass such a resolution. The full resolution can be found here.
In fact, the motion is clearly a step to bring this to more municipalities and encourage them to do the same. The motion states that "with Council adoption, the resolution could be advanced for consideration in the UBCM and FCM resolutions process at upcoming annual conventions."
The province of B.C. has banned fracking in the Sacred Headwaters; however, fracking still continues in northeastern B.C. Much of the fracked gas is transported to Alberta to fuel tar sands extraction projects, and Chevron and Apache are currently looking to export some of this fracked gas by means of the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP).
Not only does fracking destroy the environment, but numerous communities have voiced serious concern about fracking and what it can do to their communities. Members of Fort Nelson First Nation have already seen gas extraction and fracking infringe on their Treaty rights to hunt, trap, and fish on the land; and members of the Unist'ot'en clan of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation has built a log cabin in the direct route of the PTP, vowing that the pipeline will not go through their lands.
Council of Canadians is encouraging people in B.C. to make fracking a provincial election issue this upcoming May. Talk to your local MLA candidates and encourage them to take a position on fracking that would protect the environment and safeguard communities' water.
Fracking impacts our water
Fracking is a technique to extract natural gas from rock formations such as shale gas, coal bed methane and tight gas. Massive amounts of water, thousands of litres of chemicals, and thousands of pounds of sand are injected underground at very high pressures to break the rock and allow gas flow up the well. One fracking job uses the same amount of water used by 100,000 people in a day. Fracking fluids contain toxic substances that pollute drinking water and cause cancers and organ failure, and adversely impact neurological, reproductive and endocrine systems. There are no solutions to safely dispose of the wastewater and, according to the BC Oil and Gas Commission, attempts at injecting fracking wastewater underground to dispose of it has been linked to earthquakes in Northeastern B.C.
Fracking contributes to climate change
Methane is the major component of natural gas and is a powerful greenhouse gas. Even small leaks of methane can contribute significantly to GHG emissions, particularly because there are so many opportunities for gas to escape. For this reason, emissions associated with fracking must consider emissions during production and distribution as well as once the gas itself is burned. In fact, pressure relief valves used during the process are specifically designed to purposefully vent gas. Over the life cycle of a single fracking well, up to 7.9 per cent of the total gas produced is emitted to the atmosphere as methane.
In B.C., in 2007, oil, gas and mining accounted for less than 1 per cent of employment, but almost one third of industrial greenhouse gas emissions. GHG emissions associated with the shale gas industry in BC are expected to double by 2020, preventing BC from meeting its GHG emission reduction targets unless all other sectors cut their emissions in half. Studies project that by 2020, gas from just the two gas zones in B.C. could emit 5 billion cubic feet of gas per day, or about 70 per cent of all the gas used in Canada in 2009.
Dirty gas -- it's part of a larger carbon corridor!
Fracked gas is the most energy-intensive natural gas, and industry demands in northeastern B.C. are steadily increasing. In fact, industry's eyes are looking towards the controversial Site C mega-dam in order to provide this power. Local communities have voiced concerns about how the dam could destroy wildlife habitat, 7000 acres of agricultural land, and people's homes.
All of this so that over half the gas in B.C. can go to Alberta to fuel tar sands, which is the most energy-intensive oil. B.C. is allowing industry to create emissions in order to create even more emissions elsewhere.
Additionally, industry is trying to build the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP) which would bring fracked gas to the Pacific coast so that it can reach new markets. The infamous Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline follows much of the same route as PTP, and so PTP could potentially blaze a trail for Enbridge. Again, natural gas would be paving the way for tar sands expansion. B.C. is heading in the wrong direction and is not taking responsibility in meeting its own GHG emissions.
Photo: Steve Gregory/Flickr