Islanders told to pressure government on fracking issue

Mitch MacDonald
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Three companies have permits on P.E.I. for hydraulic fracturing but province hasn't yet granted permission to proceed

Johanna Padelt, right, and David Martin, of the Inverness County Council of Canadians, join Ian Forgeron, one of the meeting organizers and Angela Giles, Atlantic regional organizer for the Council of Canadians, in a meeting to discuss fracking, a controversial method of extracting oil and gas.

Islanders must keep pressure on their local governments if they hope to see a permanent ban on the controversial practice of fracking, activists from Nova Scotia’s Inverness County told Islanders this week.

More than 30 Islanders attended the information session hosted by the Council of Canadians at Murphy’s Community Centre to hear how residents of the Cape Breton county banded together to fight off oil companies from fracking in the area.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves fracturing a rock layer with pressurized fluid to break up gas-containing rock formations. Those concerned over the practice have pointed to the secret “recipe” of chemicals contained in the fluid, as well as the possibility of compromising the province’s aquifer.

While the practice isn't taking place in P.E.I. now, an area near Green Gables was fracked in 2007, which resulted in a broken pipe spilling radioactive material. Three companies, PetroWorth, Corridor Resources Inc. and BP Canada Energy Company, all have permits for gas exploration. However, the province is waiting for more information on the relatively new practice before granting permission to frack.

Leo Broderick, of the Council of Canadians, said there are many Islanders concerned over the possibility of the practice occurring again in the future.

"We wanted to have people come in who are actually fighting the real possibility of oil drilling and fracking in their neighbourhoods,” said Broderick. “That’s why we invited people to come from Inverness County.”

Inverness County was the first Nova Scotia community to call for a ban on fracking in the province. The municipality also has a bylaw prohibiting fracking in its area now entering its second reading.

Anne Levesque, of the Inverness County chapter of the Council of Canadians, described how a small grassroots movement of citizens in Lake Ainslee sharing information has fought off PetroWorth from fracking in the area.

“Lake Ainslie is a very small community,” said Levesque. “We began to have information sessions around the lake… they were not very well attended.”

“But I think in retrospect, even though they weren’t well-attended, word leaked out.”

Other individuals from Inverness County who spoke at the meeting Monday included residents Johanna Padelt, David Martin and Angela Giles, Atlantic Regional organizer for the Council of Canadians.

The small Lake Ainslie movement soon struck a chord with the public, and another information session saw more than 200 in attendance, including local politicians.

From there, the group began to make alliances with other community groups, including the Lake Ainslie Development Association, elders from the Waycobah First Nations, and the Lake Ainslie Salmon Association.

This also led to a petition for the province to ban the practice through all of Nova Scotia.

 “After the collaboration, we were still all working on the issue but on different fronts,” said Levesque, adding that this was when the idea of a community bylaw was first brought up.

That bylaw is now entering its second reading.

Levesque added that the group had cause to celebrate only a few weeks ago, when prospective foreign partners for PetroWorth announced they had “cold feet” because of a protest held by the Waycobah First Nations group.

“They decided they didn’t want to participate (in fracking the area),” said Levesque. “So that was another win.

“I just want to wish you good luck in P.E.I.”

Broderick said his hopes are to get enough individuals and groups on P.E.I. to agree there is a possibility of fracking in the province and to call for a permanent ban.

“We would like to form a province-wide, broad-based, diverse P.E.I. anti-fracking coalition, where we would put pressure on the provincial government to declare there be an absolutely permanent moratorium on fracking and oil drilling in the province,” said Broderick, who added that there will be another meeting on the issue sometime after the holidays.

Organizations: Corridor Resources Inc., BP Canada Energy Company, Waycobah First Nations David Martin and Angela Giles Council of Canadians.The Lake Ainslie Development Association

Geographic location: P.E.I., Inverness County, Nova Scotia Lake Ainslie Salmon Association.This Cape Breton Green Gables Lake Ainslee

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Recent comments

  • Dufferdon
    December 14, 2012 - 00:10

    If there is something bad about it,this Govt. will be all for it.

  • Mary
    December 13, 2012 - 19:16

    Islanders do you want to ruin your water, soil and kill your plants? If the answer is no, then I beg you to take the time to research fracking , there is all kinds of info about the subject on the internet. New Brunswickers have been fighting this for a long time. they have had many marches, petitions, ect. Big Oil companies are trying to get rich at your expense, it's up to you to strongly protest .

  • Robot Gizz
    December 13, 2012 - 18:44

    Good luck with this! They have shown that they could give a rats a$$ what their bosses (US THE PEOPLE) think. It will boil down to who stands to make the most money/kick-backs from what ever it is being done. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS to this bunch of crooks.

  • concerend citizen
    December 13, 2012 - 17:21

    Fracking should be illegal, did anyone watch the youtube videos of citizens that live close to where there is fracking close by? they can light their water on fire... fracking is absolutely outrageous, although cost effective. From an engineering design class in which this exact subject was discussed and how it is bad, the government should not move forward with allowing this

  • Rebecca
    December 13, 2012 - 14:34

    You want to fight the Government and win?? You gotta start thinking like you can! It is possible, bulilding momemtum is becoming easier, people are waking up and seeing the destruction and the lack of accountability.. Start the rallies PEI let your Government know that you are not going to stand by and let this happen. Join each other, join your groups, Unity is the greatest weapon we have. USE IT!

  • johnny cash
    December 13, 2012 - 11:51

    Like they listen to us. Just look at the open and transparent way HST got shoved down our throats,or plan b ,need i say more?

  • Twiggy
    December 13, 2012 - 11:47

    Be sure to fight this with good information too. A couple of major fracking sales dudes were exposed quite recently both for their bad science and connections to the petrochemical industry. The Globe and Mai carried an article on this a few days ago. Be very, very concerned here on PEI, friends. That vital info from the US is not in our media here, for example. The provincial government has been rather serpentine on fracking. Over a year ago Richard Brown then Environment Minister said he was awaing for info out of the US. He made no reference to any demands to see data about such activity in our specific sandy loam soil structure. Janice Sherry has never breathed a word on fracking in public. This one would be handled at the top with the Premier's boys and whatever tricksters are on this here. Remember they did the whole Plan B scam while witholding data and never relying on a scientific case for the project as the justification for it. It was just spin, aggression, protestor baiting and general media manipulation. There is no reason to believe they would not do the same with fracking. Plan B may have been the test for the fracking push. The CRA poll may have green lighted it, a vital ( for manipulation) one third of respondents expressing no opinion on the matter. Plan B is an environmental disaster as we speak. There is major run off happening. CBC covered it. The Guardian has not. People not caring about the environemnt and other human beings is the bread and butter of a government serving powerful economic interests. Thanks.

  • Sylvia
    December 13, 2012 - 11:09

    The only people this government listens to are those who agree with everything they say and do. They didn't listen about plan B, HST, and to get this government to listen you'd have to hit them all over the head with a hammer. All they think about is how to bleed Islanders out of every dollar to make up for all the money that's been wasted. Good luck to anyone trying to make this government listen.