New group wants ban on fracking in Prince Edward Island

Don't Frack P.E.I. holding public meeting across province to spread message against hydraulic fracturing

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 22, 2015

Don’t Frack P.E.I. member Andrew Lush, left, with Fred Cheverie of the Souris Wildlife Federation following a public meeting in Souris this week to call for a provincial ban on the practice.

©Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt

SOURIS — A new citizens group taking a message across the province wants the provincial government to establish a permanent ban on fracking anywhere on the million-acre sandbar.

“It would be absolute madness for it to occur here,’’ says Andrew Lush, a member of Don’t Frack P.E.I. group, during a public meeting here this week. “We want to head it off at the pass.”

There have been no fracking permits approved for P.E.I., but organizers say that could easily change with a knock on government’s door. A number of drilling permits were granted in the past by government without any public consultation and those expired in 2012.

The public meeting was hosted by the Souris and Area Wildlife Federation and moderated by president Fred Cheverie.

Don’t Frack P.E.I., which also has a Facebook page, “PEI against fracking”, boasts more than 400 members so far and organizers were delighted with the large turnout Monday night.

“This is huge for us,’’ said member Leo Broderick. “More and more people are taking an interest to stop this.”

The group says oil and gas exploration operations could come knocking any day to drill on the Island. It’s estimated up to 1,000 wells could be drilled to extract natural gas from the shale and rock formations.

In the past year there were demonstrations against the practice in New Brunswick.

“Once the economic times are right, they will come here looking for gas and oil,” said Lush, projecting maps showing the province is surrounded by permit holders in other provinces and even in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Broderick says unless there is a strong public outcry, the government could issue permits.

“We want a permanent ban approved by government in the spring sitting of the legislature,” he said.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process where sand, water and chemicals are blasted into rock formations to create cracks and allow gas to flow up well.

Fracking involves horizontally deviated wells drilling into the sandstone and using from two to nine million gallons of water to force the gas out. The group says the process drags up arsenic and other chemicals that are left on the land.

P.E.I. Environment Minister Janice Sherry told The Guardian that government is still waiting for the results of studies in other jurisdictions about hydraulic fracturing before it takes a stance on the issue.

Corridor Resources and PetroWorth were the last companies to do seismic testing and build exploratory wells here. The last wells were built in 2007 and all onshore exploration permits have expired.