The fight against fracking in the Far North

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Lorraine Hewlett, Shannon Moore, and Courtney Howard about their work with Fracking Action North, a coalition that is pushing for a moratorium on the extraction of oil and natural gas by horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in the Northwest Territories.

Even as the climate crisis deepens and harsh consequences for billions of people edge ever nearer -- indeed, for many they have already begun -- the global oil industry has increasingly been switching to new methods of extraction that are more resource intensive and even dirtier than conventional oil. The most spectacular of these unconventional sources is the tar sands in Alberta, but jurisdictions around the world have seen another new technique: horizontal fracking. This reinvention of an older approach consumes massive amounts of fresh water, depends on injecting a toxic soup of compounds into rock formations, and is only beginning to have its health and environmental consequences studied. Some jurisdictions have banned it, temporarily or permanently, while others plunge ahead with it despite the poor understanding of its consequences.

Hewlett, Moore, and Howard are part of a coalition called Fracking Action North (FAN), that brings together the organizations Alternatives North, Ecology North, the Northwest Territories chapter of the Council of Canadians, and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. FAN is working hard to ensure that the North West Territories enacts a moratorium on fracking at least until a full, transparent, and public review of the process can be made. So far, there has been a limited amount of exploratory fracking in the territory, and with the recent drop in oil prices, none is currently ongoing. The group feels that makes this the right moment to enact a more formal pause, as studies of the practice gradually catch-up with the technology -- studies that are increasingly showing that people's concerns about the practice are indeed well-founded. They speak with me about fracking and its consequences, about the challenges of organizing in the Far North, and about their ongoing work to raise consciousness about fracking in the territory.

To learn more about Fracking Action North, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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