Fracking network calls for external public review

Diane
Diane Crocker
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Simon Jansen is seen in this file photo taken at a hydraulic fracturing meeting in Lark Harbour.

CORNER BROOK  The Newfoundland and Labrador Fracking Awareness Network (NL-FAN) wants the provincial government to conduct an external scientific and public review of hydraulic fracking in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In a press release issued Wednesday the group said that while it welcomes the province’s decision to not accept applications for fracking, it does not support a proposal for an internal review.

The group says a public review is necessary in order to fully assess the potential health, environmental, economic and social effects on the region as a whole.

In an interview with The Western Star, Simon Jansen, media spokesperson for the group, said the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) cannot be the regulator and reviewer and with the government having a stake in royalties that the issue of conflict of interest arises in an internal review.

Jansen said it’s important that any review be transparent.

“I think residents are somewhat suspicious when decisions like that are being made behind closed doors,” he said.

“Because there’s human health effects on the line, there’s potential drinking water effects on the line, there’s a huge conversation about what happens with fracking waste water, and so people want to be absolutely clear what our government is basing their decision on.”

He also believes that public input has a role to play in the decision-making process.

“So many of us have done months and months of digging around and dug up scientific research on fracking that a lot of residents are feeling that they really have a lot of information to share with the government.

“And so to make this a public review with a very strong public consultation process where all the really valuable information that we have already dug up is taken into consideration would make a lot of sense.”

Jansen the group knows the money for such a review has to come from somewhere and is comfortable with the government funding it.

He suggests a process similar to what is being done in Nova Scotia.

Jansen said the government there found someone at the University of Cape Breton to spearhead an external review. He said it also advertised publicly for experts with experience and expertise in a variety of levels, not necessarily related to fracking, but the social aspect, the environmental aspect, the health aspect to contribute.

The network is a non-partisan group of organizations and individuals from across the province who have serious concerns about the potential risks of unconventional oil exploration and extraction, including hydraulic fracturing, in the province.

Organizations: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, CORNER BROOK The Newfoundland and Labrador Fracking Awareness Network, University of Cape Breton

Geographic location: Western Star, Nova Scotia

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  • Joe Wiseman
    November 30, 2013 - 09:17

    Absolutely. To do otherwise is patronizing. The citizens have much to share about the internaltional fiasco of ecosystem damage done by Hydraulic Fracturing. The door must be open to those who have spent time learning the facts. A closed door is generally a recipe for ego defense, power plays and close minded decisions based on posturing and group pressure. This is simple human dynamics. Can we leave the future of the planet's ecosysteem to closed door narrow mindedness. Please - No.