Government opens door to fracking for oil and gas exploration
WHITEHORSE—Yukon’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources appears to have thrown the doors open for oil and gas companies to use the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in the territory. According to a document on the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) website, Northern Cross has been told by the Oil and Gas Resources branch that it may use fracking for exploration activities at its Eagle Plains project without any additional environmental review.
“The claim that the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources will allow fracking at Eagle Plains without any additional environmental review is extremely troubling,” said Kate White, Yukon NDP Environment Critic and MLA for Takhini-Kopper King.
“If true, this directly contradicts Minister Cathers’ claim that any fracking in the territory would require an assessment by YESAB. How does the minister explain this inconsistency between what he said and what his department will now supposedly allow?”
Evidence from the United States and elsewhere shows that fracking is environmentally damaging and can cause earthquakes. At least one government scientist with Environment Yukon has warned that the long-term consequences of fracking are unclear and need to be further investigated. Many jurisdictions have banned the practice.
“Despite the mounting evidence and concerns of a government scientist, it seems that the Yukon Party wants to push ahead with fracking at any cost,” White said. “This approach to development is reckless and irresponsible. We support safe, smart, responsible oil and gas development that doesn’t sacrifice our environment for short-term gain. It’s too bad the current government doesn’t take its role as environmental caretaker more seriously.”
The Yukon NDP Official Opposition has repeatedly called for a ban on fracking and rules for corporate lobbying of government departments and ministers. Those calls have been rejected by the Yukon Party government.
The document in question was prepared by Access Consulting Group and can be found at www.yesab.tzo.com/wfm/lamps/yesab/lowspeed/projectdetails.jsp. Pages 8 and 9 of document number 2012-0140-019-1, dated July 9, 2012, address the issue of fracking.