Environmental coalition says bill to ban fracking is badly flawed

Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition says there's shortcomings related to the definition for fracking, community consent and exemptions for research.

HALIFAX — A coalition of environmental groups opposed to hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia says legislation that would ban the practice is seriously flawed.

The group had initially applauded the province’s Liberal government when it announced a renewed moratorium last month through amendments to the Petroleum Resources Act.

But the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition said a closer review of a bill tabled last week has revealed shortcomings when it comes to a definition for fracking, community consent and exemptions for research.

Gretchen Fitzgerald of the Sierra Club said by defining fracking in regulations rather than in the bill, the government is allowing the energy minister to make changes without public debate or a vote in the legislature.

“The definition of hydraulic fracturing covered by the bill determines the extent of the ban,” the coalition said in a statement. “The definition should be in the bill itself.”

The coalition also said the bill does not include a requirement for community consent before fracking is permitted, which was a key recommendation from an expert panel review done for the government.

As well, the coalition is critical of the bill because it’s specifically aimed at high-volume hydraulic fracturing in shale rock formations.

Coalition member Mark Tipperman said that creates a loophole for companies hoping to frack for oil or gas in different types of sand or rock.

“Unconventional gas and oil development occurs not just in shale formations but also in tight sands and coal beds,” the coalition says. “The risks arising from fracking in these other formations are similar, if not identical, to fracking shale.”

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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